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gyptmn: neiie. 

and Mbi 




James Bonwick 


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The author's simple design in this work, as in the 
" Pyramid Facts and Fancies," was to collect information 
for those with little leisure for research. 

In this age of enquiry, when the foundations of belief 
are being rudely disturbed, when ancient authority is less 
respected as it is discovered less reasonable and worthy, 
but when men, as ever, seek to know what can be known 
of the Future Life, a resume of the doctrines of the wise 
Egyptians cannot be unacceptable. No other race so 
dwelt upon the life to come. 

The frontispiece illustrates the hopes of the Nile men. 
It was taken from the coffin of Aroeri-Ao, a priest of 
Ammon. The red figure is the dying Egyptian. The 
heavenly ^lue one is the resurrected person, with his arms 
extended toward the representation of Nout, the goddess 
of celestial space. On each side is the god Kneph-Ra, 
the sun- spirit, who was the risen and the returning one ; 
consequently, the type of the human soul. 

Whether the wonderful religion of Egypt was evolved 
from inner consciousness, or appeared as fragments of a 

vi Preface. 

primitively revealed faith, it is not less the fact that the 
sacerdotal notions of other nations seem mysteriously 
related to it. In that supposed birthplace of Symbolism 
many find the genesis of religious ideas. 

While the Pyramid Age is placed variously from B.C. 
2700 to B.C. 4500, it is astonishing to find that, at least, 
five thousand years ago men trusted an Osiris as the 
risen Saviour, and confidently hoped to rise, as he arose, 
from the grave. 

The writer had no views of his own to propound. He 
honestly sought to gather the facts of ancient religion. 
The relation of these to Modern Thought was too obvious 
to need observations of his own. The necessary con- 
densation of a mass of material within a limited space 
has occasioned some sacrifice of literary proprieties, for 
which the indulgence of the critic is requested. 

Vale of Health, Hampstead, 
May I, 1878. 



Primitive Religion of Egypt ...... i 

Funeral Rites of the Egyptians 7 

Immortality of the Soul 36 

Amenti or Hades 46 

Heaven 54 

Purgatory 58 

Hell 62 

Resurrection of the Dead 68 

Re-Incarnation ; or, Transmigration of Souls . . 78 

Gods and their Meaning 85 

The Myth of Osiris 162 

Egyptian Bible 185 

^Symbolic Religion 206 

Animal Worship 225 

Tree Worship 239 

Ancestor Worship 245 

King Worship : . . . 247 

Sex Worship 255 

Serpent Worship .262 

Sun Worship 276 

Sphinx Worship 292 

viii Contents. 


Obelisk Worship .300 

Pyramid Worship 306 

SiRius Worship 3^3 

Star Worship 320 

Religion of Magic 333 

Religion of the Mysteries 345 

Priests and Priestesses 351 

Temple Worship 362 

-^Sacrifices 374 

Prayers 379 

Unity of God 386 

The Trinity 396 

Messiah and Logos Worship 402 

The Millennium 410 

The Sabbath Day *. . . . 412 

Circumcision 414 

Baptism and the Eucharist . . ... 416 

The Last Judgment 419 

Conclusion 423 

Appendix A— Origin of the Ancient Egyptians . . 427 
Appendix B— The Exodus 447 

dtgiipthtit Relief aittr Patrcnt S^Ijffitglfet. 


THE Egyptians were the earliest civilised people of 
whom we have any knowledge, though there is some 
reason to believe that they came as settlers among the 
barbarous aborigines by the Nile, bringing their civilisa- 
tion from some other land. Our Interest in the people is 
natural ; for, as Mr. Samuel Sharpe, the Egyptologist, ob- 
serves, "The Egyptian mind still has a most important 
influence upon our modern civilisation." 

It Is now generally granted by Egyptologists that the 
empire was founded about 5000 years before the Christian 
era, and that even then there was an established religion. 
Before king Menes, the gods were said to have governed 
the country. This, possibly, implies a sacerdotal rule pre- 
ceding the monarchical, and suggests an advanced condition 
of society. We must go far further back in the prehistoric 
ages for our investigations of the origin of the religion of 

While a certain unity of structure can be detected in the 
organized faith, and while the main features of the theology 
are seen comparatively unaltered for thousands of years, 
yet certain arrests of this flow of ideas, as if from intrusive 
foreign forces, are not the less conspicuous. When the 
image of Cephren, builder of the Second Pyramid, was 


2 Egyptian Belief and Modemt Thought, 

thrust into the well of the sphinx temple, one of these 
disturbing agencies was doubtless at work. Another con- 
vulsion took place at the close of the thirteenth dynasty. 
The irruption of the Hycsos, or Shepherd Kings, form- 
ing the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth dynasties, was 
another serious interruption. The Sun Disk worship was 
an important revolution under part of the eighteenth 
dynasty, as it was a royal attack upon the gods and 
images of Egypt. Other changes came in the twenty- 
second dynasty. A dreary, dreamy pantheism ultimately 
followed, dulling the national conscience, enfeebling the 
national character, and preparing the grave of national 

What the religion was during the Pyramid days, B.C. 
4000, may be ascertained in this work ; but the anxious 
enquiry of many will be, — how came that development of 
opinion } 

Some seek an explanation from the Vedas of India. 
But the Bible of Egypt, the Ritual of tJie Dead, is, in part 
at least, a couple of thousand years older. Yet both 
imply a long period of anterior development. One school 
of thought is satisfied with the doctrine of Degradation ; 
that is, a primitive revelation, and a subsequent departure 
from light. The Progressionists, on the contrary, trace 
religion from the dim dawn of human intelligence. Both 
Vedas and Ritual declare themselves inspired by the gods. 
One writer says, — 

" When a voice entered into me, I gave it birth." 

Religious difficulties led the Roman Catholic Dr. New- 
man to affirm, " To act you must assume, and that assump- 
tion is faith." But, as Leslie Stephen adds, "To assume 
the doctrine may be the best or only way of testing its 
truth. But, while this is perfectly true of belief, it is not 

Primitive Religion of Egypt. 3 

of right belief." It is easier to assume a Church as the 
depository of truth than to prove it to be so. 

In the same way, an Egyptian under the Pharaohs might 
assume the priests to be right, and be confirmed in his 
faith from the long continuance of that form of religion. 
But the man of the Pyramid age might, possibly, object 
to that position, and ask whether there was a time when 
Osiris and Anubis were unknown. He might say, " Did 
my ancestors always deem it necessary to have Anubis as 
conductor of souls V or, "What made them think the soul 
went to Hades at all V 

He would have been, doubtless, speedily stopped in his 
speculations by the priest of the period, and have been told 
that inquiry was doubt, and doubt was sin. Alarm of 
conscience midit induce him to bind himself anew with 
the fetters of the Infallibility of his Church. If not, he 
would become a cynic, or plunge alone in the maze of 
metaphysical theology. 

What, then, was the more ancient religion t " Is there," 
asks Mr. Distant, " a primeval germ that has given birth 
to all the great religious institutions of the world ?" We 
must, however, carefully remember that one key will not 
open all locks. 

Dr. Eugene Flotard says, " It is easy, in running 
through all the hymns of the Rig Veda with attention, 
to discover the vestiges of this ancient religion." But 
he styles the book "the most ancient monument of 
Naturalism or adoration of the deified physical nature ; " 
though, while perceiving nature worship, he is conscious 
of some spiritual breath there. Zoroaster condemned the 
Vedas as opposed to the primitive faith, which, with him, 
had a God. Prof Whitney, of Yale, finds there " an almost 
pure nature worship." Plutarch calls the ancient religion 
" nothing more than a system of physics, a picture of the 

4 Egyptian Belief and Modern Tkongkt. 

operations of nature, wrapped up in mysterious allegories 
and enigmatical symbols." Jamieson, in his Celestial 
Atlas, remarks, " the science of the learned Egyptians was 
their religion." " All voices," adds a French writer, " lead 
man into the world of the elements." But, as the Cam- 
bridge Christian advocate, Hardwick, finely observes, '' Such 
veneration of the elements may not indeed have con- 
sciously involved the worshipper at first in a denial of 
God's sovereignty. He may have read in them the tokens, 
symbols and agents of a spiritual intelligence." 

The Assyrian first religion has been equally charged 
with being nature worship. Mr. St. Chad Boscawen, while 
thinking "its pantheon was composed of deifications of 
nature-powers," admits that other Assyriologists, as Lenor- 
mant and Sayce, are not 6f his opinion. 

Others look to the starry skies for the solution. But, as 
the authoress of " Mazzaroth " shrewdly suggests, " the first 
religion was the oris^in of the emblems of the constella- 
tions," and " it has not been conjectured why the constella- 
tions should have been so designated as to give rise to 
these stories." The learned writer of "Veritas," Mr. 
Melville, interprets the mythological stories by the con- 
stellations, according to a rigorous system of laws, from 
which there can be no deviation, or which give no play 
to fancy. 

Ancestor worship has been also regarded as the prim- 
eval faith. But, as it supposes the ancestors to be glorified 
spirits^ there is a something behind the doctrine of an 
earlier date, and even an anterior conception of Deity. 

The author of " Sirius,— I'origine de I'idolatrie," takes 
the Dogstar, the barker, as one exponent of the idea of 
thunder being the first association with the supernatural, 
since the ancients applied such noises " to the denomination 
of the Thundering Beingr 

Primitive Religion of Egypt, '5 

Fetishism is esteemed by others the earliest conception ; 
though Hudson Tuttle beUeves "fetishism, polytheism 
and monotheism are but expressions of one religion, differ- 
ing only in degree." Maury says, " The religion of the 
savage is a superstitious naturalism, an incoherent fe- 
tishism." Burton finds the negro '' believes in a ghost, but 
not in spirits ; in a present immaterial, not in a future." 
Sir John Lubbock tells us that " a fetish is intended to 
bring the Deity within the control of man." But does not 
this suppose the man to have some notion of Deity t His 
fetish is simply "the abode of the Deity." This fetishism 
does not, as one observes, "touch the bottom of the abyss." 
The Rev. J. Allanson Picton traces the progress " from 
brute stolidity to fetishism, from fetishism to symbolic 
nature worship, from nature worship to prophetic religions." 

Max Miiller is, perhaps, our highest authority upon this 
subject, and the least positive of any. " Mythology," says 
he, "as a whole I have always regarded as a complete 
period of thought, inevitable, I believe, in the development 
of human thought, and comprehending all and everything 
that at a given time can fall within the horizon of the 
human mind." But, he adds, " wherever there are traces 
of human life, there are traces, also, of religion." Noting 
the variety of floating opinions, he writes, " There is some 
truth in every one of these views ; but they become untrue 
by being generalised. The time has not come yet, it pro- 
bably never will come, when we shall . be able to assert 
anything about the real beginning of religion in general. 
We know a little here, a little there ; but whatever we 
know of early religion, we always see that it pre-supposes 
vast periods of an earlier development !' 

Who, then, will be rash enough to pronounce a decided 
opinion.? The philosophical and learned Rev. E. E. 
Jenkins, M.A., Wesleyan, comes to this conclusion: "The 

6 Egyptian Belief anei Modern ThotigJit, 

simple phenomena of nature awaking the intuitions and 
drawing out the reasoning of the primitive races, impressed 
upon them two ideas ; first, that the primal and intelligent 
^Mind originated the universe ; secondly, that the thinking 
part of man lives on after death." 

The reader of the present work will discern that the 
Egyptians firmly held these two fundamental truths, how- 
ever they were derived. He will be satisfied that these 
truths exercised an elevating and a purifying influence on 
the native character. And, surely, observation around one 
at the present day shows that the men who know God, 
and have a living faith in a Hereafter, are both elevated 
and purified thereby. 


RELIGION is indlssolubly associated with funeraL 
rites. The dim shadowing of a behef is reaHzed 
in the obscure burial ceremonies of the lowest savages. 
Prayerless and godless as men may be, they will in the 
interment of beloved ones evidence a faith in something 
beyond this life. When we discover in the rudest graves 
of prehistoric peoples some relics of hunting implements,^ 
or remains of food, we are conscious of a recognition ot 
another state of being. The bones of a dog found with the 
skeleton of a cave-man in the Pyrenees would indicate a 
religious hope of companionship hereafter. 

Let us, then, turn to the Egyptian tomb for a revelation 
of Egyptian ideas upon religion. 

The tombs themselves are interesting exponents of 
varying civilization in that country. To Belzoni, Dr. 
Lepsius and Mariette Bey are we mainly indebted for the 
story about them. In " Pyramid Facts and Fancies," some 
notice of them has been given, rendering it less necessary 
to enlarge here upon the subject. 

There are three parts. Above is the Mastaba, or chapel ; 
near that is a Pit, some twenty to ninety feet in depth, 
leading, by a passage, to the Burial Chamber, in a corner 
of which stands the Sarcophagus. After the interment of 
the body, the pit was filled up, and the entrance concealed. 
The mastaba was open to passers-by, and was the place 
in which the friends of the deceased met to deposit their 
offerings, say their prayers, and hold their anniversary 
funeral festivals. Around the sides of this upper chamber 

8 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

were pictures and writing, descriptive of the past or future 
life of the departed, and relating to gods and pious duties. 
These outer tombs, as remarked by Mr. Fergusson, are 
truncated pyramids. They are found in groups, and are 
usually associated with a pyramid, which may be assumed 
as the centre of the Necropolis. While we have no 
remains of dwellings, and scarcely a ruin of an ancient 
palace, the tombs were constructed of such material, and 
were of so solid a character, as to be, in many cases, as 
perfect as when formed five or six thousand years ago. 
Some of these structures covered a large area. One has 
been found 400 feet in length, and another 320. The 
^ Egyptians lived, so to speak, in their tombs. The labour 
and wealth thus expended upon the construction and 
adornment of the sepulchre were not mere evidences of 
luxury and vainglory, but the tokens of the deepest in- 
terest in the Unseen World, not less than of respect and 
affection for the departed one. It was religious feeling 
more than ostentatious pride that originated these magnifi- 
cent and durable abodes. 

The mastaba above was not only decorated by paintings 
and illuminated by hieroglyphics, but furnished with seats, 
fauteuils, tables, etc. Statues of the deceased were occa- 
sionally deposited therein. Children's toys, female orna- 
ments, men's tools or emblems of callings, are equally 
conspicuous. While the entrance door was to the east, a 
false door, in the chief place of the chamber, ■ held the 
steles giving the records of the deceased, inscribed on those 
stone tablets. One entered from the east to look to the 
west, the supposed place for the dead, the setting station 
of the sun. But, like as the sun reappeared in the east, 
so would the beloved one, temporarily lost to view in the 
western shades, reappear with the celestial sun in the glow- 
ing east of returning life and day. 

Funeral Rites of the Egyptians, 9 

Mr. Gllddon, the American Egyptologist, describes the 
interior of the mastaba. "The scenes of ordinary Hfe," 
he says, " were painted on the walls. Study, gymnastics, 
feasts, banquets, wars, sacrifices, death and burial are all 
faithfully delineated in these sepulchral illustrations of 
manners, which are often epic in their character. You 
have the song with which the Egyptian enlivened his 
labours in the field ; the anthem that when living he 
ofi"ered to his Creator, and the death wail that accompanied 
his body to the grave. Every condition, every act, every 
trade, figures in this picturesque encyclopedia — from the 
monarch, priest and warrior, to the artizan and herdsman. 
Then, these little tombs are real museums of antiquities, — 
utensils, toilet tables, inkstands, pens, books, the incense- 
bearers, and smelling bottles are found in them. The 
wheat which the Egyptian ate, the fruit that adorned his 
dessert table, peas, beans, and barley ; the eggs, the desic- 
cated remains of the very milk he once used for his break- 
fast, even the trussed and roasted goose of which the 
guests at his wake had partaken." 

The Table of Ojferings is the most important object of 
regard. This is seen in the earliest tombs yet discovered 
in Egypt. Of stone, and often highly ornamented, it 
stands to receive the offerings of friends visiting the tomb 
from time to time. Into this pleasant-looking chamber, 
always bright and cheerful in that sunny land, widows, 
widowers, orphans, and the childless came to deposit the 
token of remembering affection. 

The absent one was not lost. Below, far below, beneath 
the very feet of visitors, in the rock-cut chamber, lay the 
mummied remains. But there was something not to be 
buried and preserved. That something belonging to the 
deceased was the object of afi"ectionate regard. The body 
had received the care which duty and love exacted. But 

I o Egyptian Belief and Modern ThongJit. 

that something else was associated with the visit of friends. 
The prayers were not directed to the corpse. The offer- 
ings were not dedicated to the entombed. Supplications 
rose in the mastaba for the spirits of dear ones. Offerings 
came from the living to the living. The soul ivas a fact 
in the thought of Egyptians. Apart from the body, how- 
ever mysteriously associated with it still, it could welcome 
tears and kisses, appreciate presents, and be blessed by the 
gods in the entreaties of mourners. 

The offerings of food, drink, perfumes, oil, flowers, gar- 
ments, books, ornaments, incense, etc., might have been, as 
with many nations of the present day, evidences of a belief 
that the other life was like this, though in a spiritual form, 
and that the essence, as it were, of the objects so presented, 
would be useful as well as grateful. The very feasts of the 
dead, or banquets in their honour, were solemn seasons. 
While friends partook of the dainties provided, the aroma, 
or essence, could be accepted by the ghost of the departed. 
The modern wake, however, although a survival of the 
past practice, is, from its alcoholic associations, neither 
pious nor loving. 

But the offerings laid upon the sculptured and dedicated 
table, or Tebhu, meant something more. They, like some 
of the prayers, illustrated the homage needful to be paid 
to the deceased. Removed from earth to the society of 
the " great majority," brought into connection with the 
deities themselves, they were something more than mortal. 
If yet to be benefited by the offerings and supplications of 
friends and relatives, they were grander in being, worthy 
of reverential respect, and demanding, in some sense, the 
homage paid to celestials. This was ANCESTOR WORSHIP. 

The tombs differ in appearance according to period. In 
the times of the Ancient Empire, or during the first dozen 
dynasties of the kings of Egypt, they have a grand simpli- 

Funeral Rites of the Egyptians. 1 1 

city. The earliest of them, according to Mr. Fergusson, 
the architectural writer, show "evident symptoms of having 
been borrowed from a Avooden original." 

M. Chabas is content with remarking, "A certain number 
of these tombs have been constructed at the same time as 
the Great Pyramid, and finished before that colossal monu- 
ment." But as the Pyramids of Saqqarah are more 
ancient than those of Gizeh, so are the graves of its 
Necropolis. It is, at least, a recognised fact, that both 
those of Gizeh and Saqqarah were closed up altogether 
against fresh interments in the sixth dynasty; probably 
5000 years since. M. Renan refers to the long streets of 
magnificent sepulchres around the Great Pyramids as, 
" those precious specimens of Egyptian sculpture four 
thousand years before Jesus Christ;" and adds that "the 
tombs so numerous in the lands of Sakkara, and at the 
foot of the pyramids, are all dated from the first six 
dynasties." Dr. Birch, of our Museum, declares most of 
those around the Great Pyramid to be the princes and 
other members of the family or time of Khufu, the Cheops 
who built the pyramid. 

M. Mariette Bey delights in comparing the solidity and 
good taste of the edifices of the Ancient Empire with those 
of later and richer times. The writer was charmed and 
astonished at the collection which that distinguished 
Frenchman, now worthily raised to such dignity by the 
Viceroy, had gathered at the Boulaq Museum, near Cairo. 
The tombs of the Ancient Empire are nowhere else so 
nobly and completely illustrated. The relics of wooden 
doors of the mastaba are remarkably preserved. Huge 
slabs against the Museum walls make known the everyday 
life of that remote epoch. There are to be seen represent- 
ed, men engaged at their various trades and amusements, 
women in domestic engagements and social enjoyment. 

1 2 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

soldiers and sailors, writers and merchants, shepherds and 
farmers, glassblowers and artists, marriage celebrations and 
funeral processions, in vivid colours and in excellent pre- 
servation, though from 5000 to 6000 years old. 

A fine story is told there of one Sabou Abba. We see 
the table of offerings laden with gifts, while servants and 
others are streaming in with new contributions. Another 
picture shows him seated in a palanquin borne on servants' 
shoulders. There is a long hieroglyphic account of the 
several presents by friends from Athribitis, Latopolitis, 
Arabia, Hermopolitis, etc. There is a view, also, of this 
gentleman in his boat on the Nile. Auguste Mariette 
believes all this to be no representation of the past life of 
the man, but of that he was then pursuing in Hades, the 
Amenti, or place of the departed. The tomb of the 
grandson of Snefrou, king before the pyramid was built, 
is described as " a complete model." It is vaulted in the 
middle, bears the ordinary invocation to Anubis, the 
Egyptian Pluto, and mentions the various fetes to be cele- 
brated in honour of the deceased on certain days. 

The early had but one chamber. During the first 
three dynasties, yellow bricks were more frequently used 
than stone ; afterwards, nothing but stone was employed. 
Mariette tells us of these primitive sepulchres, that ** the 
plan of the chamber has tJie form of a crossT It is, how- 
ever, generally so small that one can scarcely turn in it. 
'' But that which strikes us before everything," observes the 
Bey, " is, in the midst of all the scenes which form the 
subject of these pictures, the absolute absence of all repre- 
sentations of divinities, and of all religions emblems^ 

And yet, there is no absence of religion. Alluding to 
funeral gifts, he says : " Upon the most ancient tombs, the 
trace of that sort of religious service is found." We see 
priests presenting libations, and kneeling on a footstool. 

Ftmeral Rites of the Egyptians. 13 

Brup-sch states that in the "divine office which is celebrated 


in honour and in memory of the deceased, are comprised 
the offerings which are offered to them." We are left in 
no doubt about the gods. There are prayers to Osiris, to 
Thoth, to Anubis, etc. But there are no images of the 
gods, no pictures of them. At that early epoch, Egypt 
had not begun that monstrous superstition, that outward 
gross and degrading idolatry, which subsequently distin- 
guished her among nations. 

The Steles or tablets are not uniform in character. Pri- 
mitively, they contain many more particulars of the family, 
are more truly domestic, and have but few religious refer- 
ences. Later on in history, the individual sank, but the 
gods were exalted. One ceases then to hear anything 
about the mother, wife or children of the deceased, but 
learns much concerning the sovereign of the day, and of the 
various and ever increasing roll of divinities. The earlier 
dweller in the Nile valley had not so cumbrous a creed, 
was less frightened of the celestials, enjoyed a simpler and 
a more steadfast faith in the hereafter, and was profoundly 
given to the indulgence of home virtues. 

Usually, the stele was divided into two, three or four 
registers, under one another. At the Saqqarah Necropolis 
four are seen. The first is a short notice of the god Osiris. 
Then follow the names of the deceased, his occupation and 
history. The priest is often seen presenting incense, wine 
and other offerings, the friends standing near. The third 
register details the offerings. The fourth has usually an 
invocation to Anubis, the god of the dead. Some of 
the sepulchral steles are several feet in length ; others are 
but of as many inches. Those of the eleventh dynasty are 
much ruder than of the fourth. They are wanting in the 
peculiar groove ornament, but are still quadrangular. Under 
the next dynasty, a rounded form of tablet is noticed. The 

1 4 Egyptian Belief and Modern ThottgJiL 

style of ornament is always that prevalent in the general 
buildings of the period. It was during the Middle Empire, 
from the twelfth to the eighteenth dynasty, that a great 
change occurred. These huta, or tombstones, were wooden 
during the twenty-second dynasty, surmounted by a hawk 
as an emblem of the rising soul. 

It is strange to see on the most ancient steles such proofs 
of high civilization. As one remarks of a picture : " The 
person is represented as given up to pleasure and wealth. 
He hunts, he fishes in the marshes, he joins in mock-fights 
upon the river, the women of the harem sing and dance 
before him, and musicians play- upon their instruments." 

Tombs were often built by a person for future use, and 
the stele was previously prepared for his satisfaction, with 
the statement of his will and pleasure. We are constantly 
being informed by a tablet that the tomb is the " eternal 
home." The deceased is said to be going to the Amenti 
(Hades) "the old, the good, the great." The hieroglyphics 
in which some of the oldest information is given are often 
very rude, disorderly, with unknown and unused forms. 
They are repeatedly awkwardly placed. There is less use 
of the phonetic, and many words are quite untranslatable. 

Inscriptions are not to be found in all tombs. Those 
known to belong to the three first dynasties having inscrip- 
tions are but four in number, while those of the fourth 
dynasty are forty-three, and of the fifth, sixty-one. Of the 
sixth dynasty, only twenty-five were recognised five years 

The orientation of the tomb was perfect in the fourth 
dynasty, when the Great Pyramid was reared. The formulas 
were then established, and statues of the deceased were 
very common. Under the fifth dynasty, though wealth and 
luxury were more apparent, the statues were of inferior 
sculpture, but the hieroglyphics were plainer and of greater 

Funeral Rites oj the Egyptians. 15 

length. Chambers succeeded the former solitary room, but 
the cruciform shape was abandoned. 

The figures of the Ancient Empire are remarkable for 
the correctness of the chiselling, the freedom of the style, 
and the life-like expression of the features. The men are 
usually painted red, and the females of a lighter colour. 
The lower eyelid is bordered with a green band, which 
seems about the only conventional style. 

Under the Middle Empire the tombs cease to be, as 
before, elongated toward the north. The wonderful Necro- 
polis of Thebes is on the western side of the Nile. Diodorus 
spoke of forty-seven royal tombs being there, though only 
seventeen are spoken of in the days of the later Ptolemies. 
The royal dates appear on monuments of the Middle Em- 
pire. The fashion was established of being buried in par- 
ticular holy places, such as the Necropolis of Abydos, 
associated with the burial of Osiris, so much more import- 
ant a deity than under the Ancient ^Empire. At first, it 
would appear that no special religious character was at- 
tached to a burying place ; subsequently, holy sites were 
selected in preference. Some suppose that formulae for the 
consecration of burial ground then took place, and the tomb 
came more under the cognizance of the priesthood. 

The New Empire, from the eighteenth dynasty to the 
time of Alexander the Great, displayed more ostentatious 
wealth, but less taste. The tomb was a little temple. The 
ornamentation was rich, and gold was prodigally used. 
But the art of the Ancient Empire was extinguished. 
There were more relics, more prayers, more titles of gods, 
more worship of kings, but very few tables of offerings, 
and scarcer mention of the deceased and his family. 
We have no more such real imitation of nature, but more 
polished marble and granite. 

The finest painting of Egypt, and which is one of the 

1 6 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thotight, 

greatest attractions of the Museum at Cairo, is from a tomb 
at Meydoun, of great antiquity. It is a group of geese, the 
form of which is perfect, and the colouring as fresh as ever. 
This was painted simply upon stucco spread upon//i"^' 

The tomb of prince Merhat, priest of Cheops, builder of 
the Pyramid, was found by Lepsius to have a room 70 feet 
long, 14 feet broad, and 1 5 feet high. The sarcophagus was 
60 feet below. He thus notices the mastada : '' Here the 
sacrifices offered to the dead were brought to the occu- 
pant of the tomb. It was generally dedicated to the 
worship of the deceased, and so far corresponded to the 
temple that was erected before a pyramid belonging to a 
king for his worship. Like those temples, these chambers 
have also their entrance always from the east. The shafts, 
like the pyramids, lie behind to the west, because the de- 
ceased was believed to be in the west, whither he had gone 
to the setting sun, to the Osiris of Amenti." 

At the Soane Museum, Lincoln's Inn Fields, is a sarco- 
phagus brought from the tomb of king Oimenepthah by 
Belzoni, the explorer of the Second Pyramid, and an ardent 
Egyptologist. Digging down 18 feet, he came to a stair- 
case, which led to a passage 36 feet long. A second de- 
scent of 23 feet brought him along a sculptured corridor of 
37 feet to a room 13 feet square, and a well 36 feet deep. 
He came then to a hall, 26 feet square, supported by four 
pillars. A third staircase of 13 feet, along a corridor of 
36 feet, and a fourth staircase of 17 feet, led to a chamber 
24 feet by 13 feet. A fine hall, 58 feet by 27 feet, was 
arched one half, and upheld by six columns in the other 
half. Under the vaulted part he discovered the sarco- 
phagus. From that half proceeded six passages. On each 
side were two small rooms with wooden statues. The total 
length of the passages to the sarcophagus room was 320 
feet ; and the perpendicular depth, 180 feet. From the 

Funeral Rites of the Egyptians. 1 7 

floor beneath the sarcophagus descended another stair- 
case, or inclined passage, 300 feet long, much encumbered 
with rubbish. Mr. Samuel Sharpe assumes the date of 
this tomb to be B.C. 1 147. 

When reflecting upon such prodigious care in the con- 
struction of ancient tombs, one may believe, with Mariette 
Bey, that not pride but "a grander thought has presided 
at their construction. The more enormous the materials, 
more certain is it that the promises made by religion will 
receive their fulfilment.^' 

The funeral votive statuettes, so abundantly recovered 
from tombs, are, perhaps, most numerous under the Middle 
Empire. They are often called Figurines, and are com- 
monly about four or five inches high ; the Egyptian name 
is Schabti. They are usually found in the Serdaby de- 
scribed as "a sort of straight corridor contrived in the 
thickness of the masonry, and walled up after the statues 
representing the deceased had been deposited." There 
was a conduit to it. Often gilded, they are made of clay, 
stone, porcelain, blue enamel, steatite, wood, bronze, ala- 
baster, ebony, etc. The arms of the image are crossed. 
Some have beards to indicate men. But as these are 
occasionally discovered in the tomb of a female, Mariette 
says it "proves that the funeral statuettes represent per- 
sonages who are not the deceased himself. Many among 
them which convey the name of a woman have the beard." 
It is equally singular, some coflins holding women have 
the beard painted outside. There is no doubt but the 
coflins and the figurines were made beforehand, and pur- 
chased when required. Very few are seen in the later times 
of Egypt. 

M. Auguste Mariette says these statuettes, **are not 
found, as in the posterior dynasties, in the open salles of 
the chapels. The most general usage was to conceal these 


1 8 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

monuments throughout eternity, in making the serdab in 
the mass of the tomb, and in isolating it from all com- 
munication with the exterior air. Sometimes, however, 
a little rectangular opening, which has been discovered in 
one of the partitions of the principal chamber, notifies that 
a straight passage leads from that opening to the hidden 
statues, and that one could, in certain cases, pronounce 
there the words that the statues were reputed to hear, 
or more probably where the perfume of the incense was 
made to pass." 

The statuettes, in fact, belong to the Ancestor worship. 
But why so many, amounting sometimes to thousands, of 
these little images should have been thus studiously stowed 
away, is a curious circumstance. They are often referred 
to in the Ritual, or Bible of the Egyptians, as in the 6th 
and iioth chapters of that "Book of the Dead." Covered 
with hieroglyphics, we have important religious ideas 
brought before us, not less than particulars about the 
deceased. On many we have long passages from the 
Divine writings, with formula of funeral ceremonies, etc. 
In their hands are certain agricultural tools, referring to 
the destined work in the Elysian Fields. The figures are 
sometimes called ousnebtiou. 

In addition to these figurines, the tombs contain sepnl- 
chral boxes. They are about two feet cube, and are referred 
to in the sixth chapter of the Ritual. They are usually 
dedicated to the god Osiris. Models of sepidchral boats, 
employed in the conveyance of the dead, are also observed. 
The baris, or boat, is of sycamore wood, and appears as 
early as the eleventh dynasty. ScpulcJiral cones are found 
chiefly in tombs from the eleventh to the eighteenth 
dynasty. They are of red terra cotta, 9 inches high and 
3 inches diameter, and of the shape of the holy sacra- 
mental bread. On the bases are inscriptions, giving the 

Fune7^al Rites of the Egyptians, 19 

name of the deceased, with a dedication to the sun or 
its disk ; thus associating the tomb with Sabeism, or the 
worship of heaven. SepulcJiral altars, or shrines, are dedi- 
cated to the gods of the lower world, or to Seb and Athor. 
Some are 20 inches long by 16 broad, and 2 inches thick. 
A raised portion represents the offerings ; as cakes, animals, 
etc., and vases of libation. Some altars are several feet in 
length. The SepidclLval knot, or symbol of life, is noticed 
in chapter 156 of the Ritual. 

SepidclLval vases, or canopi, of stone, porcelain, or 
alabaster, contained the intestines of the deceased. They 
are dedicated to the four presiding spirits or genii devoted 
to the office of taking care of those parts removed from 
the body of the mummy. The vases containing these 
remains are about 15 or 18 inches high. Their caps or 
lids give the four heads of the gods in question, while the 
body of the vase is the genius itself. Thus, Amset, to 
whom are confided the stomach and larger intestines, is 
represented on the covering of the vase with the head of a 
man ; Hapi, for the smaller intestines, with the head of a 
cynocephalous ape ; Snouf, or Sioumoutf, for the heart and 
lungs, with the head of a jackal ; and Kebhouisnuf, for the 
liver and gall bladder, with a hawk^s head. 

These genii watch over these objects, or the ghostly 
representatives of the same, in the other life. The dead 
are sometimes called after them. One is reminded of that 
passage in Ezekiel, chapter i., "As for the likenesses of 
their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of \^ 

a lion, on the right side ; and they four had the face of an 
ox on the left side ; they four also had the face of an 
eagle." In the Revelation, chapter iv., we read, ''And the 
first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, 
and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth 
beast was like a flying eagle." 

20 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thottghi. 

The coffin and sarcophagus are also suggestive of the 
religion of the Egyptians, as they bear illustrative pictures 
of a religious nature. Such inscriptions as the following 

may be mentioned : " O thou N , child of the heaven, 

born of the goddess Maut." But the very ancient coffins 
are devoid of the pictorial. In the eleventh dynasty they 
are of the form of the body. 

The sarcophagus in early times was simple enough. 
M. Rouge remarks, "that of King Menkeres (fourth dy- 
nasty) presents the appearance of a little edifice ; it was not 
decorated by any figure, simple architectural lines dis- 
posed with infinite taste composing its ornamentation." 
Dr. Birch writes : " From the fourth to the eleventh 
dynasty the sarcophagi were of a kind of black basalt, red 
granite, or calcareous stone, of rectangular shape, with flat 
or vaulted cover, and four ears or projections at the corners." 
Inside, the mummy was deposited in a wooden coffin, made 
of boards of cedar or sycamore, pinned together with 
wooden plugs. In the twelfth dynasty the sarcophagus 
was cut with great precision, but only adorned by a simple 
hieroglyphic legend. Some of later days were profusely 
ornamented with writing and sculptured figures. The 
world outside was often warned not to displace or injure 
the monument. Even on the tomb of a king of Sidon we 
find this written : " My oath is upon the whole royal family, 
that no man shall open my grave, nor move away my 
sarcophagus, nor lay another one in this resting-place, nor 
take away the covering of my tomb, lest the holy gods shut 
him out." 

Only a visit to Sir John Soane's Museum, Lincoln's 
Inn, can adequately describe the alabaster sarcophagus 
of Oimenephthah I. This has been accurately copied by 
M. Bonomi, the late venerable curator of the museum. It 
was cut out of a single block of fine alabaster stone, and 

Ftmeral Rites of the Egyptians. 2 1 

is 9 feet 4 inches long, from 22 to 24 inches in width, and 
27 to 32 inches in height. The cover, broken in extraction, 
would add 15 inches to the elevation. There are four thin 
grooves, two on the chest, and two on the lid, an inch from 
the edge, where once there was plate of copper for protection. 
Engraved dots, etc., outside, were once filled with blue 
copper, to represent the heavens. To attempt a description 
of the wonderful figures inside and out is beyond the scope 
of this work. Suffice it to say, that much of our knowledge 
of the mythology of the people is derived from this precious 
monument, with its hundreds of figures to illustrate the 
last judgment, and the life beyond the grave. Gods, men, 
serpents, symbolical animals and plants, are there most 
beautifully carved. 

Some of the epitaphs on these Egyptian tombs are very 
striking. Rouge and Mariette Bey have translated a num- 
ber. Upon a tablet of the sixth dynasty we read of one 
man, " loved of his father, the favourite of his mother." 
From the twelfth dynasty we have "I come from my coun- 
try. I arrive at the funeral region. I have done actions 
desired by men, and those which are commanded by the 
gods." On another of the same age, B.C. 3000, we have a 
singular entreaty and a prayer from the occupant of the 
tomb. He is supposed to say : "All you who live on earth, 
and who pass near this funeral dwelling, you who desire life 
for your race, celebrate the god of Amenti, and say, ' May 
Anubis, lord of the mountains, protect Hor-s-ankh ! May 
funeral offerings be made to the virtuous, Hor-s-ankh, 
son of Sebek-hotep ! ' " 

Modesty was never a remarkable virtue then, any more 
than now, in the epitaph line. One exclaims, " I have 
given water to him who was thirsty, and clothing to him 
who was naked. I have done harm to no man." Another 
prays, " Repeat my name many times. I have told the 

2 2 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thoiight. 

truth. Do the same, and your old age shall be increased." 
A remarkable epitaph is given by Rouge from the tomb 
of Antef, warrior and governor, of the thirteenth dynasty. 
A part of it runs thus : " Giving justice to the palace, his 
virtues made the people happy in everything. He is a sage, 
nourished with knowledge, judging exactly that which is 
true. Holding his heart in great perfection, he applies him- 
self to hear each in his place. Exempt from all vices, virtuous 
in all his thoughts, his heart is right ; no crooked way is in 
him. Ardent for all duty, when one invokes him, he listens 
favourably to the requests. Not loving the lukewarm, he 
is quick to reply to him who sues for his counsels. Ignor- 
ing nothing of truth, full of sagacity, he knows the words 
of the interiors ; that which goes not from the lips, that 
which man says in his innermost heart, nothing is hidden 
from him. He neglects not the words of the just. Apply- 
ing his heart to make peace, he makes no distinction 
between the unknown and his familiars. Seeking after the 
right, he applies his heart to hear requests. He renders 
justice to the poor, he is severe upon the fraudulent. He 
is the father of the weak, the sustainer of him who has no 
more a mother. Dreaded is the den of the evil doers, he 
protects the poor, he is the saviour of him whom a more 
powerful one has robbed of his goods. He is the husband 
of the widow, the asylum of the orphan," etc. 

In spite of their egotism, or their flattering tale, one 
cannot but respect the high tone of moral feeling, and 
sterling manly qualities, conveyed in these epitaphs. There 
is the ring of the right metal there. If the moral code 
be correct, if it be what we call in this day Christian, it is 
but fair to think that proper principles governed the heart 
of the nation, and that the religious conceptions were 
neither grovelling nor obscure, but rather elevating and 
purifying. Their gods could never be like ^he perfidious 

Fimeral Rites of the Egyptians. 2 3 

and licentious group adored in perfidious and licentious 
Homeric times. 

Pursuing the subject of Funeral Rites, as illustrative ot 
the Religion of the Egyptians, let us now direct attention 
to that remarkable system of preserving the body in vogue 
among that people, with a view to discover what, if any, 
religious ideas governed them in the performance of that 

The mummy process may be here described. 
Immediately upon the decease of a person, a sort of 
inquest appears to have been held. The neighbours, forty- 
two in number, had to determine whether the individual 
were worthy of the honours of embalming. None but 
criminals of the worst type, or men particularly obnoxious 
to the public, were debarred. If a man, his body was 
removed from the dwelling to the house of the. embalmers; 
but the corpse of a female received attention at the home 
of friends, so nice was the sense of propriety with that 
refined race. 

The eviscerators, or Paraschistes, usually cut open the 
right side for the purpose of extraction, when the parts 
removed were deposited, with suitable provision, in the 
canopic jars previously mentioned, and confided to the 
care of the four genii of the dead. The cut was covered 
with a tin plate, on which the Eye of Horus, or other sym- 
bol, was depicted. As in the case of circumcision, with the 
Egyptians, the knife employed in embalming was of stone,. 
not metal. This may be regarded as a siirvivat of the. 
so-called Stone Age. A split flint was the first knife. As 
the rite of circumcision is known to be of extreme antiquity 
in Egypt from the use of a flint by a priest, so the employ- 
ment of the same instrument in embalming equally indicates 
the age of the practice. Herodotus was wrong in speaking 

24 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght, 

of the brain being drawn down by the passage of the 
nostrils, since we find the brain in a dried state within the 

According to the wealth of the family or the estimation 
in which friends held the deceased, so was the mode of 
embalming. It might be done for a few shillings, or might 
cost hundreds of pounds. 

Sometimes the body, after being dried by a current of 
hot air, was first put in palm wine with an admixture of 
drugs, and afterwards for seventy days in natron ; but 
oftener the wine was dispensed with. The natron, from the 
natron lakes, was not common nitre, which dries up the 
fibre. The rich added to this natron soaking, thirty days' 
steeping in oil of cedar, myrrh, cinnamon bark, etc. Poor 
people were content with a modest pickling in salt, or 
the use of bitumen, which was plentiful and cheap in 
Egypt, being the product of the terebinth tree of the desert. 
The cavity of the chest might be filled with bitumen. The 
cheapest mode was the soaking in a preparation of salt, 
cassia and senna, for seventy days, though many were 
salted only. Those bodies with which bitumen was used 
were black, heavy, hairless, and difficult to break. Salted 
ones were dry, white, light, elastic, easily broken, without 
features or hair ; but there was formed much adipocere, a 
fatty matter which is soluble in alcohol. In some cases 
the features were thoroughly .preserved, the complexion w^as 
retained, and the flesh adhered to the bones. In other 
processes, the flesh did not adhere, the skin was like parch- 
ment, the face disfigured, and the body elastic. The nails 
and sexual parts are sometimes found gilded over. 

The arms are generally laid across the breast, as with 
the old Knights Templars ; and for the same reason, per- 
haps, a reverence for the Cross. When not desirable or 
able to keep the features, some in later times had a masque 

Ftmeral Rites of the Egyptians. 25 

of gold leaf, having eyes encrusted with enamel, and evi- 
dently intended for a portrait. Preparatory to the rolling 
up in cloth, compresses were placed between the legs, 
under the arm-pits, etc. The hair was often most care- 
fully attended to. We see plaited tresses and flowing locks 
of the natural order, as well as wigs, which prevailed in the 
most ancient of times. 

Though Mr. Pettigrew, who wrote so fully upon mum- 
mies, speaks of cotton forming the material for wrapping, 
Dr. Birch and others conclude linen, with few exceptions, 
to have been the material. Wool has been discovered on 
the bodies of some workmen in eastern Egypt. The quan- 
tity of linen used is occasionally very great. In one case, 
700 yards were unrolled ; and in another, a thousand ells, 
weighing 29^ lbs. As many as forty-six folds have been 
seen. Dr. Granville writes, " There is not a single form of 
bandage known to modern surgery, of which far better and 
cleverer examples are not seen in the swathings of the 
Egyptian mummies. The strips of linen are found with- 
out a single joint, extending to a thousand yards in 
length." The coarsest stuff was put next the body. A 
border of blue colour may line the linen. Hieroglyphics 
are sometimes found near the selvage. Some pieces are 
44 inches from selvage to selvage. Others, again, are as 
narrow as 6 inches, though 21 feet in length. While the 
rich would have new material, and of the finest quality, 
the poor were content with rougher and cheaper, or even 
coloured, and, it may be, the former clothing of the indi- 
vidual ; in one instance, the wrapper was found well 
patched up. 

Over the linen wrapper is, especially in the Fayoum, the 
cartonage, on which delicate designs are traced. This is 
of layers, a score or more thicknesses of cloth, pressed and 
glued together, so taking the name and appearance of 

2 6 Egyptian Belief and Alodeini Thottght, 

pasteboard. But this is covered with a thin cement, upon 
which figures are drawn. Over the covering are the 
bandelcttes, crossing the breast, terminating, perhaps, in 
ornaments of yellow curled leather. Leather bands, with 
stamped or embossed ends, do not occur before the twentieth 
dynasty. Now and then a beautiful network of coloured 
beads is put over the wraps. One refers to the network of 
bugles, or elongated beads, as symbolizing the net by 
which the several members of the body of Osiris were 
fished out of the Nile. 

Sandals were not forgotten. In the Cairo Museum the 
writer saw an elegant pair, on the soles of which were 
painted the triumph of the soul's adversaries, with the 
hieroglyphical legend of " May thy foes be under thy 
sandals ! " In the Ritual we read, " washed and clad in 
clean linen, with white sandals on his feet, and anointed 
with a perfumed unguent or pomatum, and making an 
offering of bread, drink, oxen, geese, and burning incense." 
Finger nails were protected by thread, and sometimes even 
a sort of silver glove was worn. A gold funeral crown was 
regarded as the symbol of purification, and is described 
in chapter 19 of the Ritual. In each coffin were Jiypo- 
ccpJiali. If not stone, they were circular disks of linen 
covered with cement, and inscribed with figures and letters, 
according to chapter 162 of the Ritual. These pillows 
were called " rest for the dead," and were amulets for the 
restoration of vital heat. A triangle represented equili- 
brium or rest. 

The ornamentation was often very profuse ; gold, and 
even gems, not being spared. The pectoral plates, or iita, 
were of various shapes ; they were a boat, a scarabeus or 
sacred beetle, a heart, a triangle, or other symbolic figure. 
Most of them are two or three inches long, by half an inch 
thick, of stone, steatite, etc. The writer saw one of circular 

Funeral Rites of the Egyptians. 27 

form, representing a spider in the centre of its web. Col- 
lars, or oiLsekh, were decorated. Fingers were laden with 
rings, and the neck with necklaces. Finger nails were 
often stained with henna. Hearts, meaning life, were sus- 
pended from the person. There were reclining hawks and 
scarabei sewn on the bandelettes. Seeds, to represent 
good works, were threaded ; tats, crosses, seals, little 
columns, vultures, and other symbols, were hung about 
the neck. 

The chest was often filled with tiny images of the gods, 
some being of gold and silver. Papyri, or rolls of paper, 
covered with hieroglyphical writing, was placed next 
the skin, between the cloths, under the head, round the 
covering, or in strips, as phylacteries among the Jews. 
They served, as other amulets, to ward off evil from the 
deceased. Texts of Scripture were especially useful to 
keep evil spirits at a distance, and comfort the travelling 
soul in its dangerous and trying peregrinations. 

Coffins were sometimes highly adorned with paintings. 
They were superbly gilt from the nineteenth to the twenty- 
sixth dynasty, though black inside and out during the 
eighteenth. Some bodies were provided with three coffins. 
The cJievet, or pillow, was ornamented. The earliest coffins 
had no pictures, and the skeletons in them display poor 
embalming, and little wrapping, though the odour of bitu- 
rnen is sensibly retained. From the twelfth to the fifteenth 
dynasty, the coffins were rather plain at Thebes, and the 
body looks black with a dried skin. The hands were hid- 
den at one epoch, and left out in another. 

The corpse has a yellow look in coffins of the eleventh 
and seventeenth dynasties. Of the mummies in the height 
of Egypt's glory, from the eighteenth to the twenty-first 
dynasty, we find the Memphite are black and dried, while 
the Theban are yellow, shining, and very flexible. In 

2 8 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought, 

later days, the face was painted, to assume the rosy hue 
of health, but at other times was gilded over, waxed, or 
enamelled. There was a rapid decline in mummy treat- 
ment upon the conquest of Egypt by the Persians. After 
Christianity appeared, embalming gradually disappeared. 
St. Anthony did his best against it, by threatening eter- 
nal fires to all mummied persons. Dr. Birch says, " It 
has been calculated that about 420,000,000 bodies have 
been thus preserved." Mummies, during the Middle Ages, 
were in request for medicinal purposes. Even Lord Bacon 
admitted their use in the staunching of blood. 

A slight reference may be permitted to the funeral cus- 
toms of the Greeks and Romans, by way of contrast. 

None were buried within the city precincts during the 
historic era. According to Cicero, the Greeks buried in 
the time of Cecrops ; but they burnt in the age of Homer. 
Spartans and Sicyonians usually buried. Lucian writes, 
" The Greeks burn, the Persians bury, the Indians anoint 
with the fat of swine, the Scythian eats, and the Egyptian 
embalms." The burning took place on the pile, and the 
fire was quenched with wine. The tombs for the clay or 
glass coffins, or vases of ashes, were underground, in the 
hypogea, or Roman conditoria. Funeral monuments were 
pillars, columns, temple-like edifices, and vicnsce or flat 
stone tables. The inscription gave name, trade, city, and 
prominent events of life. There were offerings to the dead, 
anniversary sacrifices at the tomb, and wakes or banquets 
after a funeral. Food was often presented to the ghost of 
the departed, and then solemnly burnt. 

The Romans at first buried their dead. Even Marius 
was so interred. But burning was known as early as the 
Twelve Tables, though only general later on in the 
Republic. A child that had not cut a tooth was pro- 
hibited the fire. During the burning, ornaments, clothing, 

Ftmeral Rites of the Egyptians, 29 

food, and cups of oil were thrown upon the flames. The 
siliceniiinn was the feast in honour of the dead. Shows ^ 
and combats took place at funerals. The souls were 
treated as gods, and regaled with offerings called inferice 
and pai'entatia. There were oblations of food, wine, 
flowers, etc. At the end of February was the feast of 
feralia, when food was presented to the dead. The Latin 
Iminare, from Jiiiimis the earth, indicates the original pro- 
cess of burial. 

With the Egyptians, the funeral service was serious and 
as became a religious people. A ceremony, called ''the 
opening of the mouth of the mummy," was performed by 
the priest applying to the lips the noii, an iron instrument 
sacred to Anubis. The mourning was natural, and was 
accompanied by the tearing of the hair and clothing. The 
hair of friends was left dishevelled, and the dress was 
soiled, while dust and ashes were cast upon the person. 
Prayers and a funeral service, of course, followed. The 
body, first laid upon a lion-shaped couch, was borne on the 
stream to the nearest point of sepulture. We have pictures 
representing the priest reading the burial service. M. De- 
veria, in referring to a papyrus treating of this subject, 
says, " This manuscript, in giving us a part of the funeral 
rites, establishes in a convincing manner the fact that 
extracts from the Book of the Dead (the Ritual) were 
recited or read by a priest during the funeral ceremonies." 
The persistence of custom is seldom better illustrated 
than in the English casting earth upon the coffin, as ashes 
to ashes and dust to dust, after the fashion of Egypt so 
long ago, when sand was three times cast upon the re- 
Tiains. A certificate of character is sometimes discovered 
n the coffin. One reads thus, " I, the undersigned, hereby 

ittest that led a just life in ." The reintroduc- 

tion of this practice might prove an additional check for 

30 Egyptian Belief and Modern TJioiight. 

those who need a deal of hedging-in to keep them on the 
straight hne of duty. 

The dead received mystical names, as those acquired on 
earth were of no avail below in the Shades. Thus we read 
of one, '' Osiris is thy name in the bosom of the ghosts, 
Oun-nofre (good king) is thy name in the inferior heaven." 
Dances took place at graves, according to Gerhard, to 
testify to the welcome the deceased would experience by 
friends already in Hades. Such dances are not, however, 
confined to Egypt, being the custom in many lands, as 
among the aborigines of Australia, and expressing the wel- 
come to be received below. The Prophet Isaiah, in one of 
his loftiest flights of eloquence, has one of the few refer- 
ences to immortality in the Old Testament, when he gives 
the greeting of the ghostly kings to the new comer, and 
the sarcastic cry of *' Is this the man that made the earth 
to tremble V 

It has been commonly said that the embalming was 
adopted for hygienic reasons. The wise priests, who were 
— would that all priests were such! — real progressionists, 
zealous advocates of reform, earnest extirpators of evil 
and promoters of good, seeing the effect of decaying 
bodies upon the health of the living in such a climate, 
were said to have suggested the propriety of such pre- 
servation, and, by their public influence, got the system 
securely and permanently adopted. How ancient this 
was, win appear from the fact that tombs of Egypt are 
now recognised by Egyptologists as dating, perhaps, 4,500 
before Christ ! Over six thousand years since, and, very 
probably, a thousand years or more before that epoch, the 
mummy system was in existence. Whatever originated it 
therefore, must have been a principle of extreme antiquity. 

But could it have been on merely sanitary considerations 
that the wise priests of Egypt, say, some seven thousand 

F2tneral Rites of the Egyptians. 3 1 

years ago, induced the people to preserve corpses ? If so, 
they must have had greater moral influence in their day 
than any set of rulers have in ours ; or, the people with 
whom they had then to do must have been more obedient, 
or more reasonably willing to adopt sensible measures, 
than are to be found in England this century. 

Yet, if sanitary, would the priests have succeeded so well 
in their benevolent and patriotic enterprise had they merely 
appealed to reason ? Had not religion something to do 
with the change ? Were not the native and natural im- 
pulses to reverence the spiritual acted upon to procure so 
ready and so universal a response ? If religion, what ideas 
were presented, and how and when did they arise ? We 
must be willing to admit with Fichte that " superstition 
has restrained its subjects to abandon many pernicious 
practices and to adopt many useful ones." 

We cannot turn to other nations for a solution of these 
queries. The Cushite tribes, the Chaldeans, the Hindoos, 
have nothing to tell us, even inferentially, for long ages 
after the early revelations of Egypt. We cannot divine 
whether the Egyptian colonists brought the practice with 
them into the country, or even the notions which gave it 
being. It is possible that some peculiarities of the new 
land were the indirect cause. The time had been, before 
the institution of canals and drainage works, that the waters 
of the Nile, ungoverned and unrestrained, made the land of 
the valley impracticable for burials, and exposed the living 
to greater danger. But, then, was it any more needful for 
interments to be in the valley than it was afterwards } 
Was not the desert close to the narrow home of fertility } 
Could they not have taken the corpse to the sandy and rocky 
plateau, where no flood ever came } Was it not probable 
that, from the first, the uninundated ground would become 
the cemetery, especially when it was not productive t 

3 2 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

But there were many inconveniences attending the 
mummy practice, besides the question of enormous charges, 
that would have presented great difficulties to the would- 
be reformers. Natural instincts had to be encountered. 
Cremation in Britain, notwithstanding the spread of know- 
ledge, and the apparently judicious reasons for its adop- 
tion, has now to contend with the prejudice of ages. Less 
, than two thousand years ago men burnt bodies here ; 
but since then the public feeling has changed in favour 
of burial. Here, at once, we are met with the argument, 
that a change of religion effected a change in the treat- 
ment of the dead. The old-world idea of the sanctity of 
the corpse, cherished long before Roman and Greek cre- 
mation was exercised, entered the early Christian Church. 
It came with the revived conception of the resurrection 
of the body. To touch the corpse was defilement ; but 
to burn it was a sacrilege, an interference with the opera- 
tions of Deity, who would in due time raise the body. 

For us, then, to resume cremation, we must first remove 
the feeling which sanctioned the entire safety of the body, 
and the prejudice which force of habit has begotten. The 
latter is harder to remove than the former. Though the 
Bishop of Lincoln still champions the theory of the resur- 
rection of the identical body, and condemns interference 
with the corpse, which worms or fishes may devour, yet 
the majority of thinking Christians doubtless read Paul 
differently. They see that he speaks of burying an earthly 
body to be raised a spiritual body ; and they accept that 
spiritual rendering. With very many of us, therefore, it is 
not an Egyptian notion of the sanctity of the corpse that 
keeps us from cremating our friends, so much as a natural 
revulsion, arising from a long indulgence of another 

Without doubt humanity is much the same in all 

Ftmeral Rites of the Egyptians, ^ 

periods.- In Egypt, then, seven thousand years ago, if the 
people had been accustomed to get rid of the corpse as 
early as possible in that hot climate, either by burial or 
burning, any interference with that fashion would raise a 
sentiment of revulsion. It is not probable that burning 
was practised, as the land and desert border could not have 
borne much timber. Assuming, then, that the body was 
interred a few hours after life departed, how could the 
people be 'induced to adopt so contrary a mode, involving 
so much trouble, labour and expense } So revolutionary a 
change could not have been made by the stroke of a pen, 
even if the government were then ever so despotic. When 
conquerors are never found to succeed in altering the habits 
of new subjects, how could a native ruler accomplish so 
decided an effect } 

Granting the existence of a religious sentiment, — the 
strongest of all upon human will — how did it arise, and 
wherefore .? Feelings come from ideas, and ideas are slow 
in making their way among any race. The creation of a 
public opinion is a work of time. That public opinion was 
in favour of mummy-making so many thousands of years 
since is a fact, but that it took time and influence to form 
must be confessed. Our curiosity, therefore, is strangely 
excited as to the grounds of that public opinion. 

Until we were able to read Egyptian writing, especially 
the very ancient Holy Books, we were driven to accept the 
declarations of Greek travellers, upon Egyptian matters. 
Herodotus, who dearly loves a joke, and often plays with 
his readers, was trustworthy, <for a Greek, \n telling what 
he saw and heard. But we do not always see correctly, 
nor understand what we hear. We are equally liable to 
be misled by false news. Did Herodotus, 2300 years ago, 
learn anything about mummy mystery t He says he did, 
and tells what he was told. Pythagoras, long before his 


34 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

time, heard something in Egypt, but never told it. What 
was the difference between them ? Pythagoras came as a 
philosopher to learn, submitted to many years' trial of 
character, passed through painful tests, and got admission 
to the mysteries ; but, of course, he told nothing. Herod- 
otus came as a traveller, hunting up news for a book. 
Would that order of priests who knew the secret be likely 
to open their hearts to such a chatterer ? Would the in- 
formation he got from inferior sources be reliable t 
^ What he heard and told was this : The soul when it left 
the body had to pass through a series of transformations, or 
transmigrations, during a cycle of three thousand years. 
It might go into the body of an ass to be thrashed and 
starved, or into a dog to be kicked. At the end of the 
time the soul would be re-united to the body, and be, as 
story books say, happy ever afterwards. The Egyptians, 
therefore, said Herodotus, like prudent men, resolved not 
to let the soul loose, to wander at sweet will into ass or 
dog, but tied it down hard and fast by the preservation of 
s^ the body for the three thousand years. 

That is the tale that satisfied Herodotus, and had to 
satisfy us until of late. It was a strong motive, strong 
enough, perhaps, to get an easygoing race to make mum- 
mies. But did the Greek get the truth } Was that really 
the story given out by the priests t An examination of 
the Scriptures of the Egyptians, — known and read by the 
people, cited on public monuments, and stamped upon 
their seals, as well as engraven upon funeral tablets, — will 
not warrant any such conclusion. Some of their holy 
writings were in existence, perhaps, 2,500 years before the 
days of Moses ; but they throw no decided light upon the 
question. What they tell will be read elsewhere in the 
present volume, and the reader can form his own judg- 

Ftmeral Rites of the Egyptians, 35 

That the treatment of the dead was intimately associated 
with religion may be accepted as true. The only natural 
supposition is that endorsed by the learned Lenormant ; it 
is, that the dogma of the resurrection of the body origin- v 
ated the mummy practice. 

The priests, so long ago, taught the Egyptians that their 
souls lived hereafter. They added, that the animal soul, 
belonging to the body, and independent of the soul proper, 
would be one day re-united to the spiritual essence. As 
the destruction of the corpse might cause, to say the very 
least, some inconvenience to the soul inhabiting it, and thus 
peril the happy re-union, it became an object of intense 
interest to preserve the corpse till the liberated higher 
soul had performed its purgatorial work, and made fit for 
its return to the partner-soul of the body. 


UPON this question at the present day there is the 
widest imaginable difference of opinion. The position 
of Materiahsts is simple enough. Ignoring spirituality, the 
question of the soul gives them no trouble. Though they 
place man on the level of the beasts in death, it is not 
because they would, as some desire to do, level up the 
beast to man's immortality. 

Then they who hold our continuance of being may see 
that state in a very general way, and in some mysterious 
manner connected with the movement of spirit in the ab- 
stract, but not in the preservation of our own individual 
entity. Others, thinking that the soul can have no active 
existence without the body, conclude it goes to a sort of 
limbo or deadhouse, till the Great Resurrection restores the 
old material partner to give it animation. The Annihila- 
tionists would allow immortality to certain divinely selected 
persons, while all others sink, in consequence of natural 
non-immortality, into absolute loss of existence ; that is, 
though ordinary matter is indestructible, that the soul of 
man can become extinct. 

Two other broad beliefs are in our midst. Some fancy 
that it is more in harmony with the character of God, and 
the order of things, that spiritual being should progress. 
As such advancement is impossible to be carried on far in 
this life, and the vast majority are without facilities for ad- 
vance at all, it seems to some probable that this is not the 
sole world of probation, but that beyond the grave the 
struggle is continued. Those called Rcstorationists main- 

Immortality of the Soul. 37 

tain that all souls, though falling for a time or times, will 
ultimately, after further trial and suffering, progress in virtue 
and intelligence. Another belief has been long the most 
popular, and held more or less in most pagan religions, in 
Mahometanism, and in Christianity, so far as public expo- 
nents of faith appear. This is, that our earthly life is the 
only one of trial, and that eternal bliss or woe must follow 
it. But this is somewhat qualified in the Greek and Romish 
Churches by the doctrine of Purgatory. 

It is not unlikely that the acute Egyptian mind was 
exercised after the same fashion as our own. Metaphysics 
and morals are supposed so necessarily human, that cultured 
men in all ages have had pretty much to do with the same 
mental conflicts. Ideas, whether derived from primeval 
teaching, or developed from inner consciousness, have pro- 
gressed but little since the pyramid days. Yet it may 
be admitted, with Prof Tyndall, that our ideas of the soul 
*'are not what they were a century ago ; they will not be a 
century hence what they are now." 

A Christian advocate and scholar, Mr. W. R. Cooper, 
lately uttered these solemn and thoughtful words : " The 
future of the body and the soul must always have been 
to their wisest philosophers what it even now is to the ablest 
scientists of the present day, an inscrutable mystery — a 
mystery which inspiration has only partially revealed, and 
which faith and reason alike teach us to leave with confi- 
dence in the hands of the great All-wise, All-pitiful, and 

The first enquiry should be,— what was the Egyptian 
idea of SoiU ? 

But slight knowledge of European philosophy is required 
to be assured of the wide difference of meaning attached 
to soul even by the soundest Christian authorities. This is 
not the place to describe these opinions, which range from 

^S Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

something like Spinoza's refinements to a materialism ap- 
proaching Comte's theory. The Egyptian learned may 
have varied as widely. It is difficult to discover at times 
any personality in their writings ; on other occasions, the 
personal soul is conspicuous enough. 

The general notion of the ancient Egyptians was similar 
to that developed in the writings of St. Paul, and in the 
works of Plato, etc. Man was believed to be of body, 
soul and spirit. The Swedenborgians have revived the 
ancient faith of the Egyptians and the early Christian 
Church. The soul was of the form of the body, and of 
some very refined substance, while the spirit was more ap- 
proaching immateriality. Some Egyptologists fancy they 
observe five parts of man ; ba, the soul ; ak/i or khtc, intel- 
ligence ; khaba, shade ; kha, the body ; and sah the 
mummy. A verse of the Egyptian Scriptures has been 
thus rendered : " I have made my soul come and speak 
with my spirit." The God is represented saying to the 
dead, " I have given thee thy spirit, I have given thee 
thy soul, I have given thee thy body." One styles kka 
as body ; ka, the animal soul ; khaba, the astral form or 
shadow ; ba, the higher soul ; and akh, terrestrial intelli- 

The sahou of Egyptian thought has been supposed by 
some writers to be the soul belonging to the material body. 
But Pierret thinks the word khoii, answers to the Greek 
noics, or understanding ; while ba was their soul or psyche. 
The ba, says Mr. Cooper, " must, however, have possessed 
a species of corporeality, as it underwent, as is well known, 
a series of bodily duties in the Ker-ncter (Hades), or suf- 
fered actual physical tortures or mutilating in the Akai', if 

Deveria says: "the sahou was not truly the mortal body. 
It was a new being formed by the re-union of corporeal ele- 

Iimnortahty of the S021L 39 

ments elaborated by nature, and in which the soul was 
reborn in order to accomplish a new terrestrial existence 
under any form." The sahott, was pictured carried off by 
a bird, as we put an angel to the same office. The Egyp- 
tians represented it on the coffin, with a likeness of the 
deceased, but with some resemblance to one particular god ; 
inasmuch as after death it had changed its character. 

Lenormant refers to this sort of spiritual companion of 
the mummy. "The Egyptians" says he, "tried to preserve 
intact, and to protect against all destruction, this body, 
destined to enjoy a more perfect existence. Thus enve- 
loped, the mummies were not deprived of all kinds of life, 
and the Ritual shows us that the deceased was supposed 
still to make use of his organs and members ; but, in order 
better to assure the preservation of the vital heat, they had 
recourse to the employment of mystical formulae pronounced 
at the time of the funeral." 

But the immortality of the soul was in one form or other 
most distinctly acknowledged by that people. Compared 
with other nations, the Egyptians had a living faith in a 
future beyond the grave, exercising a most practical in-^ 
fluence on their daily lives. 

If, as has been observed, that faith became more obscure 
in the later days of the empire, and much more inoperative 
upon conduct, it was only the downward course, also 
pursued in monotheistic belief. The progress of so-called 
civilization, or contact with other races, may have been the 
cause of this spiritual declension. Sven Nilsson writes, 
" The belief in the immortality of the soul our Creator has 
deeply implanted in the human race from its very first 
appearance upon earth ; it is only since speculation has 
gained some ascendancy over the still voice of conscience 
that doubt has arisen here and there." The Wesleyan 
Conference Lecturer for 1877 was not wrong in thinking 

40 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

that *' the hope of a future life has been the natural corol- 
lary of faith in God." 

The funeral ceremonies of the people were founded upon 
the idea of immortality. The Ritual of the Dead speaks 
with a most decided tone on the subject. The religion 
was bound up in it. There is meaning in the saying of 
Mariette Bey : '' The secret of the grandeur of Egyptian 
tombs is in these beliefs/^ 

The Egyptian Scriptures contain a common argument. 
Thus, in one chapter we read, " The Osirian (the deceased) 
lives after he dies, like the sun ; for, as the sun died and 
was born yesterday, so the Osirian is born ; every god re- 
joices with life, the Osirian rejoices, as they rejoice with 
life." In the Litany of the Sun is written, '' Whoso is in- 
telligent upon the earth, he is intelligent, also, after his 
death." In another record it is written : " Thy soul rests 
among the gods, respect for thy immortality dwells in their 

As F. Schlegel remarked : " Among these nations of 
primitive antiquity, the doctrine of the immortality of the 
soul was not a mere probable hypothesis ; it was a lively 
certainty, like the feelings of one's own being." The learned 
Christian Advocate of Cambridge, Mr. C. Hardwicke, ac- 
knowledged the doctrine was " quite familiar to the old 
Egyptians " ; though thinking that "■ the simple fact of its 
existence in the Valley of the Nile can furnish no legitimate 
proof of spiritual elevation." The Rev. Dr. Parker, of the 
City Temple, has lately exposed the real spiritual degrada- 
tion of Christian England. 

Mariette Bey, who, as curator of the Cairo Museum, is 
so absorbingly Egyptian, says: " As for Egypt, human life 
did not finish at the moment when the soul departed from 
the body ; after combats more or less terrible, which put 
to the proof the piety and morals of the deceased, the soul 

Immortality of the SoiU. 41 

proclaimed just is at last admitted to the eternal abode." 
On one papyrus are the words : " His soul is living eter-\ 
nally." The symbol for this is a golden heart upon the 
breast. On every stele, on every funeral inscription, the 
deceased is described as the ever living. A sarcophagus 
often bore the words, " Thy soul is living." The phrase 
" Happy life" is repeatedly found marked on the mummy 
cloth, and refers to the life to come. In the Ritual, or Bible, 
there are sentences like these : " I shall not die again in 
the region of sacred repose " ; and, " Plait for thyself a ~ 
garland ; thy life is everlasting." If, according to Carlyle, 
the belief in heaven is derived from the nobility of man, 
then must the old tenants of Egypt have been a noble race, 
as they seemed to live in the hope of immortality. 

But there are other illustrations, which refer to a Con- 
ditional Immortality. All are not to be immortal. Elec- 
tion is strongly insisted upon. Those to be saved are 
called the elect. Hence, the earnest petition of the de- 
ceased, or by friends for him, that he may live. The fact 
of the goddess Nout bestowing the Water of Life, or the 
fruit of the Tree of Life, would distinguish the gift-cha- 
racter of immortality. 

Then, again, it is argued that the Egyptian conception 
was not a Personal Immortality. 

C. Lenormant declares that ''the Egyptians deny the 
individuality of the human soul in the other life ; " and 
that '' the deceased was no more than another Osiris." He 
adds : '' In fact, the end of the prayers which they pro- 
nounce for the dead, the supreme beatitude, consists in 
the absorption into the bosom of the universal pantheism, 
the fusion and the identification of the soul with the divi- 
nity who resides in the entire world." His son says : "The 
dead finished by completely identifying himself with Osiris, 
to be dissolved, so to speak, in his substance, to the extent 

42 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thoicght, 

of losing all personality." On one of the tablets is the 
following : " May He (the god) grant thee sacred bread 
in the dwelling of Ptah-Socharis in the day when thou 
shalt join thyself to the gods." 

Then there is the astronomical view of the question. 
Some authors have contended that the Egyptian priests, 
whatever the people supposed, knew there was no immor- 
tality, and that the allusions to another life were but astro- 
nomical delusions. 

De Briere made merry over ChampoUion's descriptions 
of heaven and hell. ** He knows not," said this critic, "that 
in the ancient East there was neither reward nor punish- 
ment after death ; that man was rewarded or punished in 
this world, either upon himself or his descendants, and al- 
ways in material interests. He knows not that Egyptian 
theology gave two souls to man ; one, the intelligent and 
powerful soul, when going from the body, joins itself to the 
supreme Intelligence from whom it emanated ; and that 
the other, the sensitive soul, re-entered by the gate of 
the gods, or the Capricorn, into the AinentJie, the watery 

But, in spite of the materialistic school, the prevalent 
belief of European writers is, that the Egyptians did believe 
in a personal immortality. 

Hence arose a difficulty, with some theologians, as to the 
singular silence of Moses upon immortality. Mr. Heath, 
when noticing the Exodus Papyrus, observes : *' With re- 
spect to the great subject of man's futurity, our present 
views in Europe are identical in principle, though not in 
detail, with those which were held by the actual opponents 
of Moses." 

This is a harsh way of putting it, as the opposition was 
on the mere ground of wonder-working. But one Cam- 
bridge Cliristian Advocate had this extraordinary apo- 

Immortality of the Soid. 43 

loay : " I grant that these conceptions of futurity have no 
existence in the Books of Moses. They are foreign to the 
geniiis of revealed religionr Another clergyman imagines 
that " in earher times, for certain reasons, in the Providence 
of God, the doctrine was not insisted on." 

Babylon, though accepting the dogma, had not the clear 
light enjoyed by the Nile Valley. Yet there is this prayer 
that rose from the banks of the Euphrates, " Merciful One, 
who dead to life raises!" An early Babylonian epic, ac- 
cording to M. Lenormant, "teaches the redemption from 
Sheol, the prison." 

Mr. H. F. Talbot, F.R.S., has no doubt of immortality 
there. '' On the clay tablets in the British Museum," he 
says, " I have found two passages which I think indicate 
their (the Assyrians') belief with sufficient certainty. They 
are both prayers for the happiness of the king, first upon 
earth, and afterwards in a future state." He ventures to 
trace the Jewish awakening to this idea, as it is but darkly 
noticed in the Old Testament; remarking, "When the 
Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity they brought 
with them a multitude of new opinions and superstitions, 
which had not been known in former times; and, also, 
some much purer doctrines, among which was pre-eminent 
a belief in the immortality of the soul." 

A Babylonian tablet bears this mention of a good man : 
"They (the gods) bring a khisibta (jewel) from their 
heavenly treasury ; they bring a sisbu from their lofty 
storehouse. To the precious khisibta they pour forth a 
hymn. That righteous man, let him now depart. May he 
rise as bright as that khisibta ! May he soar on high like 
that sisbu ! Like pure silver may his figure shine ! Like 
brass may it be radiant ! To the sun, greatest of the gods, 
may it return ! " 

India is the other land of primitive notions on religion, 

44 Egyptian Belief and Modern TJionght. 

The Nyaya of Gotama declares, *' The seat of knowledge 
is the soul (atman). It is twofold, the living soul (jivat- 
man), and the supreme soul (paramatman). The superior 
soul is Lord, omniscient, one only, subject to neither plea- 
sure nor pain, infinite and eternal." 

The Vedantists speak of the karana-sarira, or latent 
embryo of body with the soul. Other Hindoo writings 
mention five cases, as it were, of the soul : viz., organs of 
perception, organs of action, breath, gross body, and the 
innermost. This reminds one of Plato's envelope or 
vehicle, and his imago or simitlacntnu The Todas and 
others think they all go ultimately to amnor, whence all 
things proceed. 

Max MuUer says of the Vedas, " Their life was a yearn- 
ing after eternity." Even Kapila, the Hindoo atheist, 
taught the immortality of the soul. Prof. Monier Williams 
thought the Brahmanas expressed belief in the future more 
positively than the Mantras, or hymns. *' They also," said 
he, " assert that a recompense awaits all beings in the next 
world according to their conduct in this." 

Some of these Vedic sentences are strikingly parallel 
to Egyptian declarations. Thus : " He who through know- 
ledge, or religious works, henceforth attains to immortality, 
shall first present his body, Death, to thee ;" and, " Having 
left behind the infirmities of the body, free from lameness, 
there let us behold our parents and our children;" also, 
"That everlasting and unchanging world." A hymn runs as 
follows : " Place me, O Purifier, in that divine, unchanging 
region, where perpetual light and sunshine abide. Make 
me immortal where Yama (Death) reigns. Make me im- 
mortal in the third heaven, where action is unrestrained, 
where the shining regions exist. Make me immortal in 
the world where all enjoyments exist." 

The following hymn, from the Upanishads of Hindoo 

Immortality of the Soul. 


Scripture, Is an address of Yama, or Death, to a youth, 
and illustrates Egyptian as well as Hindoo thought : — 

The careless youth, by lust of gain deceived. 

Knows but of one world, one life ; to him the Now 

Alone exists, the Future is a dream. 

The slayer thinks he slays, the slain 

Beheves himself destroyed ; the thoughts of both 

Are false. The soul survives, nor kills, nor dies. 

^Tis subtler than the subtlest, greater than 

The greatest ; infinitely small, yet vast : 

Asleep, yet restless, moving everywhere : — 

Among the bodies, ever bodiless. 

Think not to grasp it by the reasoning mind. 

The wicked ne'er can know it ; soul alone 

Knows soul : to none but soul is soul revealed. 



THE Amenti was the other life or Underivorld oi the 
Egyptians. It was the " Land of the West ; " the 
" Dark ; " the " Secret place ; " the '' Land of no return ; " 
the " House with no exit ; " " that which receives and gives." 
It was Ker-neter, land of the gods, or ghostland ; Otamer- 
sker, the country loving silence ; and Netcr-xer, the funeral 
place. It was Aides (Hades), the invisible ; like the 
Aniiwn of the Druids. It was Tan, land of millions of 
years. The especial place of New Birth was on an isle of 
the Amenti Nile of the Amenti Egypt. There are fifteen 
gates to this house of Osiris. Riista is the gate of the 
passage, or entrance; and Ainh'is the exit gate. There 
are many mystical halls, the chief being the Hall of Two 
Truths. The Hades of the Greeks, place of the departed, 
has been rendered hell in our translation of the Scriptures. 
Jesus, in the so-called apostles' creed, is said to descend 
into hell. " Who but an infidel," asks Chrysostom, "would 
deny that Christ was in hell } " Yet Ruffinus declares this 
was absent in the more ancient Christian creeds of Rome 
and the East. 

Taking the final letters in Amenti for the feminine arti- 
cle, we have the locality of the god Ame?i or Amoim, 
whose name means the Hidden god. 

A papyrus, translated by Lepsius, gives the Egyptian 
description of the place : — 

" The Amenti is a land of heavy sleep and darkness : a 
house of grief for those who stay there. They sleep in 
incorruptible forms, they walk not to see their brethren. 

Amenti or Hades. 47 

they no more recognize father and mother, their hearts 
have no more feeHng toward their wife and children. This 
is the dweUing of a god named All-Dead. He calls every- 
body to him, and all have to submit trembling before his 
anger. Great and little are the same to him. Each trem- 
bles to pray to him, for he hears not. Nobody can praise 
him, for he pays no regard to those who adore him. He 
notices no offering that any may bring to him." 

This is a striking representation of the irrevocable nature 
of death. This sort of amenti is more after the character 
of the Jewish sheol, a region of stillness and inactivity. 
Other accounts give the active side. There it is recognized 
as simply the continuation of this life after death. The 
temptations and trials to be there overcome are figured as 
serpents, fires, monsters, etc. It is in Amenti that fresh 
dangers have to be encountered, new triumphs to be gained. 
It is there where the Great Judgment, the Last Judgment, 
has to be faced by the wandering soul. It is in the Amenti 
that the final separation of good and bad is made, and 
heaven fixed for ever. 

The journey of the soul through this underworld was 
compared by the Egyptians to the daily course of the sun ; 
and, as one says, " each point of the course of the luminous 
body was regarded as corresponding to the different stages 
of this existence." 

A monument gave M. Deveria the notion that Amenti 
was divided into four portions. " From each of these four 
regions or infernal localities," he says, " represented in this 
composition, proceeds a serpent described in a particular 
manner ; thus, from the first, ' The Great God, Lord of 
Powers ; ^ from the second, ' The Great God, Lord of 
Terror;' from the third,/ The Great God, Lord of Pre- 
eminence ; ' from the fourth, * The Great God, Lord of 
.' " The Soane sarcophagus, so accurately copied 

48 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

by Mr. Bonomi, shows each door or division of Hades 
guarded by a serpent, standing upright on its tail. 

Another picture represents twenty abodes in Ker-neter 
or Amenti. One of these consists of waves of fire. The 
place was like Homer's Cave of Nymphs, where the souls 
entered by the northern end and left by the southern. Its 
King, Ro-t-amenti, recalls to remembrance the Greek 
story of Rhadamanthus. The Cerberus of the Greeks 
originated from what Mariette Bey styles " The great 
Directress of Amenti," an animal form, half dog and half 
hippopotamus. This is the Monster of our cathedrals. 
It is Odin's dog : 

*' When the dog of darkness spied, 
His shaggy throat he opened wide ; 
While from his jaws with carnage filled, 
Foam and human gore distilled." 

All must %o, as it were, down the throat of this Directress 
of Amenti. A few only, as Hercules, Ishtar, etc., are 
recorded as having descended and re-ascended by that 
route. These are taken as types of Him who conquered 
Death, and led captivity captive. 

The Feasts for the Dead had a definite meaning then. 
The departed were not, as with moderns, something re- 
moved out of sight, to be mourned over awhile, and then 
almost forgotten, as not being of us. The ancients gener- 
ally looked on such as still belonging to them, to their 
family circle, and as the subjects of prayers. For their 
journey in the other life spiritual nutriment was required. 
If the ghosts did not absolutely sniff the perfume of the 
dishes, the food so spread upon the grave symbolised, at 
least, the good wishes and supplications of friends for the 
sustenance of the absent ones. Hades, the Amenti, was 
only the other side of the river. It was near at hand. It 
was the place to which the friends themselves must go. 

Avienti or Hades. 49 

But it was the home of dear ones, waiting, too, for them 
to come over. The Feasts of the Dead, Hke the Irish 
Wakes, were, perhaps, seasons of extravagance and, at 
times, of moral degradation ; but they met a want of poor 

The story of Charon, the ferryman, is to be found not 
only in Homer, but in the poetry of many lands. The 
River must be crossed before gaining the Elysian Fields, 
or the Isles of the Blest. The Ritual of Egypt described 
a Charon and his boat long ages before Homer. He is 
Khu-en-ua, the hawk-headed steersman. 

The " Records of the Past," edited by Dr. Birch, and one 
of the most interesting and important of archeological 
publications, has a translation from L. Stern, of the '' Song 
of the Harper." This old poem was taken from a tomb of 
the date of the eighteenth dynasty, approaching 4,000 
years ago. It was, doubtless, a funeral song, chanted on 
the anniversary of the death of a father. 

The Harper sings in some verses to the spirit of the 
dead, and then addresses the living friends around him. 
" Men," he cries, " pass away since the time of Ra, and the 
youths come in their stead. Like as Ra (the sun) re- 
appears every morning, and Tum sets in the horizon, men 
are begetting, and women are conceiving. But all born of 
women go down to their places." He then adds, " They 
(the Dead) are sitting on the bank of the river, thy soul 
is among them, drinking its sacred river." 

A curious Egyptian tablet pictures one gate of Amenti 
guarded by three deities with the respective heads of a 
crocodile, a lion, and a dog. That gate is " Total Dark- 
ness." Other gates are called " Concealer of Forms," 
" Revealer of Fortune," " Destroyer of Conscience," " Arm 
of Earth," " Punishing Spirit," and " Sharpening Flame." 
The noise of souls in one department is compared to the 


50 Egyptian Beli(f and Modern TJioiigJu, 

buzzing of bees ; in another, to the screaming of hawks ; 
and in a third, to the squaUing of cats. 

Under the heads of " Heaven," " Purgatory," and " Hell," 
more particulars of the Land of Shades may be noticed. 
It must not be forgotten that, while the soul passes through 
its trials in Amenti, there is a sort of soul with the body. 
Dr. Birch tells us, " It appears that in the future state the 
eidolon or likenesses of the dead are still considered to re- 
main, as well as the soul, which was represented as a hawk 
with a human face." 

The ability to decipher cuneiform inscriptions has inci- 
dentally thrown much light upon Egyptian belief. Though 
not so ancient a civiHzation as that in the Nile Valley, 
the Assyrian dates back a long way and was much influ- 
enced by Egyptian thought. This is likely enough if 
Chaldea, as reputed by some authorities, were a colony 
from Egypt. 

Hea and his wife Nin-kigal presided over the Baby- 
lonian Hades, as Osiris and Isis did in the Egyptian. It 
was the Bit-edie or House of Eternity. The domain had 
seven spheres, realized in the seven stages of towers. At 
the summit of the one at Borsippa, near Babylon, the hand 
of the god Anu projected. " In this sense," says Mr. 
Dunbar Heath, "■ the tower or ladder may be said to have 
been really built for the purpose of reaching unto heaven, 
or to the right hand of God." It showed the seven stages 
of progressive existence in Hades. A plate, in Lajard's 
Gilte de Mithra, gives this ladder to the right hand of 

" The kingdom of the underworld," writes Mr. St. Chad 
Boscawen, ''was the realm of the god Hea, and the Hades 
of Assyrian legends was placed in the underworld, and 
was ruled over by a goddess, Nin-kigal, or the "Lady of 
the Great Land." She is also called Allat. There 

Amenti or Hades. 51 

" To the land of no return, the regions of corruption ; 

The house of corruption, dwelling of the god Irkalla ; 
- In the house whose entrance has no exit, 

By the road whose going (has) no return." 

As in Egypt, so in Babylon, it was connected with celes- 
tial agriculture. The Athenians used to describe it as 
*' the most ancient record of the art of sowing." 

In Mr. George Smith's lifeHke sketches of Assyria, we 
read : " The soul of Heabani (one of the Deluge heroes) 
was confined to the earth ; and, not resting there, intercession 
was made to transfer him to the region of the blessed." 
He speaks of " the curious story of his ghost rising from 
the ground at the bidding of Merodach," the god. 

A beautiful record is preserved by Mr. H. P. Talbot. 
" After the gifts of these present days, in the feasts of the 
land of the silver sky, the resplendent courts, the abode of 
blessedness, and in the light of the Happy Fields, may he 
dwell in life eternal, holy, in the presence of the gods who 
inhabit Assyria ! " 

By far the most wonderful illustration of Hades, also 
translated by Mr. Talbot, is connected with the descent of 
Ishtar, the Assyrian Venus, after Tammuz, the beloved one. 
A few extracts from this ancient poem are here placed 
before the reader : — 

" To the land of Hades, the ... of the earth, 
Ishtar, daughter of the moon-god Sin (turned) her mind. 
And the daughter of Sin fixed her mind (to go there) ; 
To the House of Eternity, the dwelling of the god of the earth. 

The abode of darkness and famine, — 
Light is not seen ; in darkness they wander. 

When Ishtar arrived at the gate of Hades, 

To the keeper of the gate a word she spoke : 

' O keeper of the place, open thy gate ! 

Open thy gate, again, that I may enter ! 

The penalty, if thou openest not thy gate, and I enter not. 

52 Egyptian Belief and Modern ThoiigJit. 

I will assault the door ; I will break down the gate ; 
I will attack the entrance ; I will split open the portals ; 
I will corrupt with death the food of life ; 
Instead of life, it shall change to death.' 

Then the porter opened his mouth and spake, 

And said to the great Ishtar : 

' Be of good cheer, lady ; do not distress thyself ! 

I will go to open it for the Queen of the gods.' 

The porter entered, and spake again, 

' This is the place ; take care of thyself, Ishtar. . . . 

A cavern of great rocks, . . . 

The Lord of the Earth has these . . . 

See, as it were a green bough cut off. 

As it were, a rod of salvation from a tree. 

These I bring as a protection to life, a great protection. 

This is the place, I will go with thee. 

See, as it were, food, and, as it were, cups of water. 

Go, gatekeeper, open the door for her ! 

But divest her of her high crown of ancient jewels.' 

The gatekeeper went, and opened the gate for her. 

' Excuse it, lady, if thy high crown I take off. 

That the King of Hades may meet thee with pleasure.' " 

The first gate admitted her, and stopped her ; then was 
taken off the great crown from her head. 

" ' Keeper ! do not take off from me the great crown from my head ! ' 
' Excuse it, lady ! for the Lord of the Earth demands its jewels.' " 

At the second gate, the fair goddess lost her earrings ; 
at the third, precious stones from her head ; at the fourth, 
the small, lovely gems from her forehead ; at the fifth, the 
jewelled girdle of her waist ; at the sixth, the gold rings of 
her hands and feet ; and, at the seventh, the necklace from 
her neck. 

" After that Mother Ishtar descended into Hades. 
The Lord of Hades met her, and sought her presence eagerly. 
But Ishtar did not move, but sat alone by herself. 
The Lord of Hades opened his mouth, and spoke ; 
To Namter his messenger a word he said : 
' Go, Namter, and . . . ' " 

Aine^iti or Hades. 53 

Here comes a long break in the stone record. 

Once down there, Ishtar had considerable difficulty in 
getting up again. The gods took pity upon her, yet had no 
way of overawing the Lord of Hades, who was master in 
his own house. But the scheming divinities knew a clever 
magician, a black man, and sent him down to cheat the 
Pluto. He mightily entertained the Infernals with his 
tricks, and took a sly opportunity to give poor Ishtar a 
cup of the water of life he had brought with him. At once 
she was able to rise from Hades. As she passed each 
gate, she recovered her jewels. 

'■' The seventh gate let her go forth, and restored to her the great 
crown on her head." 


THE Egyptians, said Diodorus, applauded the good 
man's death, since that set him free to join the 
pious in the other world. The place was a sort of celestial 
Egypt, with a celestial Nile, lakes, and islands. The gate 
by which one ascended to it from Hades was called 
Ammah. Heaven was symbolised as a female, with her 
arms above her head, swimming in celestial space. Far 
from being a " Nirvana," with nothing in the shape of 
employment, or, rather, a loss of personality in absorp- 
tion with Deity, this Aahlu was the scene of activity. 
But it contained no Houris or Apsaras, though there were 
600,000,000 in the heaven of India. 

Elysium was termed " Kingdom of the blessed ; " " Heaven 
of good;" "Field of divine harvest;" "Country of eter- 
nity ; " " Garden of bliss ; " " land of the river of life ; " 
" Land like earth, but without sorrow ; " " Region of those 
approved or accepted ;" " Pools of peace," " Land of the 
sky," " House of life," " Hall of two truths." It was 
pleroma, or perfect bliss, where one was ever fed by Osiris 

The Tract Society's work on the Antiquities of Egypt 
gives the following as an inscription upon the Blessed : 
" They have found favour in the eyes of the great God ; 
they inhabit the mansions of glory, where they enjoy the 
life of heaven ; the bodies which they have abandoned 
shall repose for ever in their tombs, while they rejoice in 
the presence of the Supreme God." 

The triumph of the redeemed is recorded after the 

% Heaven. 55 

manner of the Revelation. Upon a papyrus, brought out 
from a tomb in the sight of the Prince of Wales, it was 
written, *' Those who are in this picture salute that great 
God with palm branches in their hands." They revelled 
in Heset, one of the halls of the empyrean. On another it 
is said, " The great God speaks to them and they to him." 
There are no sorrows, and no temptations, for those who 
are " the just purified by fire." 

Pictorial representations show them reclining at their 
ease in a fine garden, well guarded against evil intruders. 
Some lie comfortably beside a tank, pleasant enough in a 
hot country. There is music there, with other delights, 
for the good. But the great object of pleasurable exist- 
ence is depicted in the cultivation of the celestial fields^ 
In so truly agricultural a country as Egypt, where the 
regularity of inundations made the employment less 
hazardous and more agreeable than in other countries, it 
was but natural that the heaven of the people should 
be a farming one, as that of the American Indian was a 
hunting one. 

Before criticising too harshly this fancy, we may bear in 
mind the wide views entertained among our own popula- 
tion, as to the enjoyments of the hereafter. Some look to 
flight from star to star in the study of creation, and one'' 
authoress contemplates the presence of pianos there. While 
there are those among us who use the phraseology of 
material pleasure to typify spiritual joys, so the better sort 
of Egyptians realized in the pictures of field work a sense 
of moral work and progress. 

The sixth chapter of the Ritual bears upon this ; leading 
Deveria to remark : " The newly deceased, whose body is 
resplendent with light at the moment when its soul arrives 
near the gods, asks to be reckoned among themselves, that 
it may be given up like them to the culture of the Elysian 

56 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

Fields. This explains the agricultural implements placed 
in the hands of little figures in the form of mummies." 

Lenormant has the following interesting observations on 
the chapter : — 

" It is there we learn that knowledge is as necessary as 
virtue to obtain the happy destination of the human soul ; 
and the work of the soul, it may be in this life, it may be 
in the other, it ought to accomplish, in order to acquire 
knowledge, has for its symbol the exercise of agriculture. 
Knowledge is food for the soul, as barley for the nourish- 
ment of the body. One obtains the barley only by sowing 
grain in the earth, and in reaping while it is ripe the new 
harvest produced by the seed. It is by a series of similar 
operations that the soul must pass to procure knowledge, 
the condition of happiness." 

One of the sacred books has an address to the pious 
departed, saying, "Take your sickles, reap your grain, 
carry it to your homes, and give it as an offering to God." 
References are made to the " mansions of glory," and to 
bathing in the river of life. There are not only houses and 
fields, the river and bridges, but irrigation canals, as in the 
Nile valley ; for Mr. Samuel Sharpe explains, " Corn grows 
in the inundated land — cultivation of corn in a well- 
watered field was thought to be one of the employments 
of the blessed after death." 

This Karneter of bliss, this Aahht, Attkar^ etc., was a home 
of safety. Once within its precincts, the soul was secure 
from the intrusion of foes. This is illustrated by the pic- 
ture of a lovely region, guarded by twelve sacred serpents 
vomiting flames against visitors with ill intents. In one 
picture there are twelve mansions with doors so guarded, 
while the good are seen chatting in pleasant companies, 
taking heavenly food from off the heavenly altar. This 
has by no means the coarseness of expression conveyed in 

Heaven. 5 7 

Teutonic and Scandinavian ideas of Valhalla, or heaven ; 
where the diversions were slaughtering in battle or hunting 
by day, and feasting on hog's flesh at night. 

On the coffin of Mencheres we read : " O deceased king, 
born of heaven, issue of Nout, child of Seb ! Thy mother 
Nout is extended over thee in her name of mystery of 
heaven." Upon this picture of the overshadowing of the 
dead body by Nout, the celestial, Dr. Birch recognizes the 
doctrine that a man " does not die a second time in the 
Hades, and the soul comes forth and does as it wishes." A 
funeral tablet has this record: "Thy soul proceeds to 
heaven to see the disk of the sun ; divine is thy body at 
the gateway (tomb) with Seb." 

The Chaldeans had their "Happy fields," "Places of 
heroes," "Resting-place of gods,"— where the good are 
said, in the cuneiform inscriptions, to be "reclining on 
couches," "drinking pure liquors," and "feeding on rich 

M. Lefebure, in 1875, gave the following account from 
the sarcophagus of Seti I., who lived before the age of 
Moses : " We see to the left hieracephalic Horus supported 
on a long staff. Twelve personages carrying, as a cord, a 
long serpent (Nenuti) (symbol, probably, of the march of 
time). The bearers of the cord, those who prepare the 
fields of the elect, say, * Take the cord, pull, measure the 
fields of the souls who are the elect in your dwellings, of 
the gods in your abodes, deified elect in the country of 
peace, verified elect to be in (the enclosures of) the cord ; 
justification is for those who are there, and there is no 
justification for those who are not there.'" 


THERE can be no doubt in the mind of the reader of 
the chapter on " Hades," that purgatory was a doc- 
trine of the Egyptians thousands of years before the 
Christian era. 

Upon the removal from this earth, the man at once 
enters upon a fresh series of mental conflicts. He is 
confronted by dangers, and tortured by demons. The 
whole story is one of trial. The Ritual lays down the 
procedure most clearly. There must be suffering for ex- 
piation of guilt. There must be tests to bring out the 

The final judgment is after this process of trial, as it is 
-'Still considered in the Church of Rome. All souls must 
pass through it. And, moreover, prayers, the prayers of 
the faithful, and the masses of priests, were held useful in 
shortening the duration of purgatory, or in mitigating its 
terrors. In Egypt, as in Roman Catholic lands now, 
flames appear, in pictures on walls, etc., as the most com- 
mon expression of trial. There are, also, to be read on 
the walls of Egypt piteous appeals for earthly prayers from 
the unhappy departed, who are seen surrounded by the 
surging flames. 

There are fifteen gates, guarded by genii with swords, 
to the region devoted to this expurgation of venial sins. 
Marictte Bey speaks of the examination of the soul at 
each gate, and of the '* idea of gradual education." Even 
the good were not fitted at once to pass to the Elysian 
Fields. The very body was embalmed to preserve it till 
the spirit had become purified in purgatory, and been 

Purgatory, 59 

reunited to the body-soul at the resurrection. M. Chabas 
says, " Separated from the soul, the mummified body, the 
saJm, stays not inert at the bottom of the funeral pit ; it 
can notably accompany the western peregrinations of the 
Egyptian purgatory." 

If the states were believed to be fixed, whence the 
necessity of prayers for the dead? Why are friends 
entreated to pray for the departed ones, that they may 
have strength to bear trial, and eventually come out of suf- 
ferings into heaven ? The souls have to stay until cleared 
of their defilements, before being able to mount upward 
to the gods. The finally impenitent might sink into hell. 

The Assyrian neighbours of the Egyptians believed in a 
purgatory, or Dante's Inferno. 

"The sun," says the Michaux stone, "the great judge of 
heaven and earth, shall condemn him, and shall thrust him 
in the fire." But the Chaldean legend of Ishtar, as trans- 
lated by Messrs. George Smith, H. F. Talbot, and others, 
throws some light upon the Egyptian purgatory. 

Ishtar descends to Hades. The goddess, in her morals, 
approaches the type of the Grecian Venus, not the Egyp- 
tian Isis or Hathor. Offended at her rude behaviour, Nin- 
kigal, the Queen of Hades, resolves to punish her. As 
Mr. Smith says, "resolved on consigning Ishtar to the 
region reserved for husbands (lords) who leave their wives, 
and wives (slaves) who depart from the bosom of their 
husbands." She is represented by Mr. Talbot, saying :— 

" This insult I will revenge upon her ! 
Light up consuming flames ! Light up blazing straw ! 
Let her doom be with the husbands who deserted their wives ! 
Let her doom be with the wives who from their husbands' side 

departed ! 
Let her doom be with the youths who led dishonoured lives !" 

This follows the principle laid down by Dante, that the 

6o Egyptian Belief and Modern T/ioicghl. 

punishment in purgatory shall be according to the sin. 
In some way Hathor, the goddess, is the Proserpine or 
queen of that region. 

But Mr. Gladstone describes the Hades of the Greeks as 
being in three divisions, the centre one, perhaps, answering 
to purgatory. There are, first, the Elysian Plains, where 
no rain, snow, or rough wind can trouble one. The second 
is the Underivorld Proper, where Homer had his abode of 
Aides ; a dark, drear, chill locality, where Minos the Judge 
answers to Osiris the Judge. "Here," says Mr. Glad- 
stone, " they are in general under no penal infliction." In 
that way it answers to Limbo. The third is the Tartarus, 
far below Hades ; yet where there is but " the continu- 
ance of the habits and propensities acquired on earth." 

The Intermediate state of the primitive Christians is 
variously described, as there was no settled opinion on any 
subject during the first centuries of the Christian era. 

Augustine said the dead rested there as " in a hidden 
receptacle;" Irenseus, " in an invisible place appointed them 
of God;" Justin Martyr, "in a better place, as the bad 
in a worse, awaiting the Day of Judgment." Chrysostom 
wrote, " The very apostles and patriarchs are not yet 
crowned ;" Ambrose, "The judgment is not at once after 
death ;" Jerome, "not see the face of God until after the 
resurrection;" and, " is cherished in Abraham's bosom;" 
again, " the place into which souls are laid up, either in a 
state of refreshment, or in punishment, according to their 
deserts." Several of the Fathers call it Paradise ; as Basil 
refers to " Heaven and Paradise." But Augustine thinks 
the souls of the blest are in Paradise, which is the " third 
heaven" of Paul. Cyprian notes "Paradise and the 
heavenly kingdom." Some thought all went to one place. 
Yet Theodoret says, " There is one Hades to all, but light 
to some, dark to others." Olympiodorus thought Paradise 

Purgatory. 6 1 

was in inferno and in heaven. Jerome said the patriarchs 
were still in the inferi. Bernard declared, that the saints 
see the Humanity of our Lord only before the resurrec- 
tion, and the Divinity after it. The Church has necessarily 
varied its faith on this as on other topics. The Council of 
Florence, 1439, even declared that the just were " received 
presently into heaven, and clearly behold the Tri-une God." 

But all the changing opinions of the early Church are 
observed to be singularly hke those held at various times 
by the ancient Egyptians. The latter generally held, as 
did the Fathers, that the intermediate state preceded the 
judgment, and that heaven was after the resurrection. 

The so-called Restorationist views among Christians, 
though not receiving apparent illustration on the monu- 
ments of Egypt, may have furnished the leading subject 
of esoteric teaching, the hidden doctrine of the sacred 


THIS place of torments, admitted into the creeds of 
Buddhists, Brahminists, Zoroastrians, Mahometans, 
Jews, and Christians, is always termed infernal, or lower. 
It may be the lower half of the twelve signs of the Zodiac, 
or the twelve hours of the night. It may be the sun below 
the equator, or the sun passing below from west to east. 
Darkness and dread are intimately associated. 

Hell, in the mediaeval times, was below, or in the in- 
terior of the earth ; where, as a Dutch clergyman charac- 
teristically observed, the damned are packed as herrings 
in a barrel, and are permeated by the heat of fire as 
herrings are with the brine in the barrel. 

Hell, or Karr, of ten halls, or fourteen abodes, with the 
Egyptians, was in no want of flames. It was there that Ra 
was to be seen as Lord of the Furnace. A record of the 
eighteenth dynasty says of some one : " He shall be miser- 
able in the heat of infernal fires." There are awful pictures 
of devils thrusting bad Egyptians into the fire. In one 
there are eight flames rising from a place of torment. 
Dr. Birch speaks of " wastes of flame and waves of flame." 
A lion was there, and was called " the roaring monster." 
Another describes the place as "the bottomless pit and 
lake of fire, into which their victims are to be thrown." 

Devils figure in the Egyptian hell. They are even seen 

^with the traditional three-pronged fork, and have most 

unpleasant appearance. A large number of them belong 

to the reputed gentler sex. Feminine demons, or baba, 

play a conspicuous part in torturing there. Some of these 

Hell 63 

castlgatrlces plunge swords into the victims, or vomit fire 
upon them. Apet, the hippopotamus goddess, a form of 
Thoeris, was pleasantly called "The nourisher of those 
who approach to the flames of hell." Others of the female 
spirits of vengeance have heads of the lioness, and with 
hearts as hard ; they act under the immediate direction of 
Horus, the avenger, as well as the saviour. Thoeris and 
other female divinities devour the bodies. The devils 
movQ. about with instruments of torture ; bastinadoing, 
cutting, burning, boiling, beating, or tearing hearts and 
tongues out. The Garin papyrus shows some of them 
tormenting souls in underground cells. The forty-two 
judges of the dead are said to subsist on the blood of the 

Serpents, of course, have a deal to do there. Some, 
with legs, as the Caberiu, are to be seen pitching the bad 
ones into the fire, — women as well as men. But serpents 
are mainly utilized, under proper supervision, in ejecting 
flames from their mouths upon offenders. Horus even 
holds a great serpent, directing its volume of fire upon 
some wretched, pinioned criminals. Osiris is noticed 
similarly engaged. An immense serpent, in another 
picture, is vomiting flames upon the bodies of four de- 
capitated persons ; the legend over it is — " the place of 
Nesr-nesr, or fire." The roof of the Scandinavian hell was 
of serpents, that looked down on lakes of fire and the 
thirty-two rivers of mud and filth. 

Apes are, also, ministers of infernal vengeance. The 
boundaries of hell are guarded by them. Often they pre- 
sent themselves in the act of torturing souls. A copy of 
the Ritual has a picture of four apes at the corners of a 
lake of fire, with jets of flame near. At the last judgment 
apes are used to carry ofl" the condemned to the place of 

64 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

The hippopotamus, the symbol of Typhon the Bad, has 
a share in this unpleasant work. But his office seems con- 
fined to the swallowing of the wicked. He is one of the 
guardians " who swallow the shades of the dead." 

This " Region of strife," or " dwelling of stupefaction," is 
sometimes represented as a woman with her arms hanging 
disconsolately down, with the word Amenti written on her 
head. As a place of sorrow, its seventy-five zones of 
misery would answer that terrible description by Eni- 
pedocles : *' The etherial force pursues them toward the 
sea ; the sea vomits them upon the shore ; the land, in its 
turn, sends them back to the unwearied sun, which chases 
them in whirlwinds of ether, and one tears them from the 
other, and all have a horror of them." 

Another form of punishment is to be converted into 
some objectionable animal, as a pig, a wolf, etc. On the 
sarcophagus of the Soane Museum, Lincoln's Inn, an ape 
is seen chasing away with a stick a soul, fresh from the 
hall of judgment, but already turned into a swine. 

The Buddhists have terrible pictures of burning, boiling, 
frying, evidently of Egyptian origin, and speak of a hundred 
and thirty-six hells. The twenty-one hells, or Narakas, of 
India represent darkness, fire, fetid mud, etc. Mahomet's 
bridge, as fine as a hair and as sharp as a sword, from 
which unbelievers and bad Mahometans drop into the 
fires, is an idea borrowed from the Persian Zendavesta, 
composed nearly three thousand years before the Koran. 

Mariette Bey tells us : " As to the reprobate, those who 
by their conduct on earth have not merited an entrance 
into the abode of the blessed, they will endure all the 
tortures of hell. They will become malevolent beings. 
They will love to do evil. A singular thing is, they will 
be spirits having, in order to hurt men, all the power 
which others have to be useful to them." 

Hell. 65 

This may be the Swedenborgian doctrine of the conver- 
sion of bad men into devils, or the common Jewish notion 
of possession by evil spirits, who were once bad men, as 
Josephus tells us. 

In a translation, by Menard, from the Egyptian Hermes 
Trismegistus, we have what Mariette Bey calls " the tor- 
ments of a true hell, reserved for the condemned." 

" When the soul," says Hermes, "is separated from the 
body, it goes to be judged according to its merits, under 
the supreme power of the god. If he finds it pious and 
just, he permits it to dwell in the celestial dwelling which 
belongs to it ; but if he sees it soiled with faults and vices, 
he precipitates it from on high below, and gives it up to 
the tempests and contrary whirlwinds of air, fire, and 
water. Without ceasing, agitated between heaven and 
earth by the waves of the world, it will be drawn from one 
side to another in eternal torments. Its immortality gives 
eternal duration to the judgment pronounced against it." 

The tenderness or charity of the Egyptian mind is seen 
in the fact that though women as well as men are cast into 
the fire, no children, especially infants " a span long," are 
to be observed in the place of torment. Even as to the 
sufferings themselves, Maspero says : " This despair was 
rarely expressed in Egypt." But we do read: " His majesty 
Horus of the lower heavens, orders that they be mutilated 
each day." This has an allusion to the mutilation of Osiris 
by Typhon. An old tablet bears this inscription : " For 
the enemies of Osiris. The god ... is the castigator 
of this region. They dwell amidst the cries of the impious, 
the groanings of the souls and shades which stretch out 
their hands to them from the bottom of their abyss." 

The Tract Society gave a translation of an address upon 
the condemned : " These souls are at enmity with our god, 
and do not see the rays which issue from his disk. They 


66 Egyptian Belief and Mode^ni Thought, 

are no longer permitted to live in the terrestrial world, 
neither do they hear the voice of god when he traverses 
their zone." It is a terrible conception. The sun is there, 
but it gives no light. God speaks there, but his voice is 
not heard. 

While the doctrine of everlasting torment has support 
from the monuments of Egypt, the Annihilationists, or 
believers in the final destruction of the wicked, are not 
without Egyptian support. Mr. Baring-Gould says, "A 
high degree of education must be attained before the 
notion of annihilation can be apprehended." That is an 
argument for the intuitional teaching of immortality. 

To this Mariette Bey alludes, when he says of the truly 
impenitent, "for these a second death, that is to say, a 
definitive annihilation, is reserved." In another place he 
writes: ''The definitive annihilation in the midst of the 
torments of a true hell was the suffering reserved for the 
condemned." Rouge writes: "As to the condemned souls, 
they are forced to submit to the second death." 

Their sacred writings support this idea. Annihilation 
furnishes the subject of many prayers ; as, " Let me not be 
annihilated." In a prayer to Osiris for the departed, it is 
said, " He sees in thee and he lives in thee, it is in thee 
he will never be annihilated." In the 93rd chapter of the 
Ritual, one reads, " The rebels become immovable things 
during millions of years." The worm utterly devours 
them ; the fire absolutely consumes them. The man may 
be beheaded, or swallowed by a hippopotamus. Madame 
Blavatsky, in His Revealed, refers to " the gradual dissolu- 
tion of the astral form into its primal elements." 

Pierret says : " The tomb is piteously closed upon 
those whose faults condemn them to annihilation." 
Lenormant asserts that the wicked, " before being annihi- 
lated, are condemned to suffer a thousand tortures, and, 

HelL 67 

under the form of an evil spirit, to return here and dis- 
turb men, and exert themselves for their injury." Mr. 
Cooper, a most competent authority, with similar views, 
writes : " The final punishment of the wicked consisted 
in utter annihilation, after a period of frightful torture 
in a fiery hell." The opinion, therefore, of the Rev. 
Edward White and others, was forestalled in Egypt, 
doubtless several thousand years ago. M. F. Lenormant 
distinctly affirms : " The annihilation of being was held by 
the Egyptians as the punishment reserved for the wicked." 
The Zendavesta of the ancient Persians affirmed, " Hell 
shall be destroyed at the resurrection." 

M. Deveria indicates a parallel with the Book of the 
Revelation, parts of which, at least, are deemed by the 
author of the " Book of God," and by others, as copies of 
the most ancient sacred writings in the world. The French 
Egyptologist says : " The wicked who submit to these pun- 
ishments (described on monuments) are condemned to 
absolute annihilation, without hope of ever seeing the 
living again. This annihilation is called the second death 
in some hieroglyphic texts, as in the Apocalypse." 


THIS doctrine has, by some persons, been supposed 
confined to the religion of Jews, Christians, and 
'Mahometans. Among the Jews it is met with in the 
Talmud, a work mostly composed in Babylon, which bears 
so many evidences of indebtedness to Chaldean and 
Egyptian thought. Nothing is more clear in the annals of 
Egypt than the belief in the Resurrection of the Dead, and 
the Resurrection of the Body. 

At a recent discussion before the London Victoria 
Institute — a society which was formed for the acquire- 
ment of information upon Christian evidence — when this 
Egyptian subject came up for consideration, Mr. Rendall 
wished to know, " how it was made out that the doctrine of 
a resurrection of the body was held at that time," as that 
doctrine had often been treated as one of the most distinc- 
tive doctrines of Christianity. Mr. Gorman, on the con- 
trary, said " the doctrine of the resurrection is taught in the 
Old Testament, and is not peculiar to Christianity." But 
he thinks " it becomes a very important and curious ques- 
tion, why Moses did not bring out that doctrine promi- 
nently." The Rev. Dr. Fisher observed: "I never supposed 
for a moment that the Old Testament writers did not 
believe in the resurrection of the body." The Rev. Pre- 
bendary Row thought the Egyptian " idea was of a pan- 
theistic character." The chairman doubted if the Jews 
" had a clear idea of the resurrection of the body." He 
rather fancied that the Egyptians, " having got a primitive 
notion of life after death, distorted it in a pantheistic sense." 

Resurrection of the Dead. 69 

He considered that " in earlier times, for certain reasons, 
in the providence of God, the doctrine was not insisted ony 

The able essayist, Mr. W. R. Cooper, F.R.A.S., whose 
paper caused the discussion, was willing to admit that, in 
the later times of Egyptian history, the dogma had obtained 
some pantheistic characteristics ; but he held that, in pro- 
portion as we travelled backward, so much the purer was 
the sentiment found to be. He had, however, a doubt 
whether " at the earliest period of their history they 
believed in the resurrection of the body." He saw " both 
a development and a reaction" in their idea. His remarks 
on the gradation of their belief are so valuable as to be 
here inserted : — 

" First, that the soul only lived while the body remained 
intact ; secondly, that the soul existed and re-inhabited the 
body, and ultimately lived in a re-united condition in bliss 
till its own ultimate absorption into Deity, while — which is 
to be noticed — it yet preserved its own personal conscious- 
ness ; then, lastly, the soul was supposed to be a portion 
of the great Soul of Nature, to be independent of the body, 
which it used only as a tenant, and after death and purifi- 
cation by purgatorial fires, it then itself became merged 
into the abstract forces of nature itself Of the Christian 
doctrine of the resurrection of the body in a glorified form, 
alike, and yet not alike, to the present conditions of the 
human frame, there is no certain evidence in Egyptian 
theology. A few advanced thinkers may have held the 
doctrine, or may have received it from primitive revelation." 

Perhaps M. Paul Pierret meets the difficulty, when 
saying, " The manner in which the resurrection is effected, 
varies according to the (Egyptian) schools." 

This philosophical French writer, long Conservator of 
the Louvre Museum, has some pertinent remarks upon 
the symbolical vegetating of the dead Osiris. That body 

70 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thotight. 

certainly comes itself to life again. But he is much struck 
with the evidence that " sometimes it is the deceased him- 
self who works his own resurrection." As Osiris raised 
himself, so must his servants raise themselves. 

Again, he writes : " The life of man was assimilated by 
the Egyptians to the march of the sun over our heads, 
and his death to the setting of that orb, which disappears 
at the western horizon of the heavens, to return on the 
morrow victorious over darkness. The terrestrial existence 
was considered as a solar day, and death, the issue of that 
day, was an image of the course of the sun in the lower 
hemisphere. The Egyptian descended into the tomb to 
become an Osirian (nocturnal sun) and to resuscitate as 
Horus (rising sun)." He derives this knowledge from the 
Ritual. But he tells us that '' Birch thinks these chapters 
of the Book of the Dead describe rather the assimilation 
of the human soul to the cosmical soul, and its absorption 
in it." 

The striking likeness established between the Osirian 
dead and the god Osiris, leads Pierret to observe, respecting 
the powers of the departed : " This pious soul can, at its 
choice, unite itself to its khoii (body-soul), raise itself to 
heaven into the disk of the moon in imitation of the soul 
of Osiris, shine definitely among the fixed stars, shine in 
the bosom of Nut in Orion, and be the servant of Horus 
among the moving stars (planets)." 

The 92nd chapter of the Ritual speaks of opening the 
tomb to the shade. As an Egyptologist explains : "■ In 
order that the soul may give itself up in the Hail of Judg- 
ment, it must first open to itself the gate of the tomb." 
Another chapter relates to the " Day of the Birth of the 
Osiris" (departed). The resurrection is expressively de- 
noted by a bird coming to the corpse, with the cross of 
life in one hand, and the sail of movement in the other. 

Resztrredion of the Dead. 7 1 

In one place the god Aw is seen navigating the inferior 
heaven, fecundating the larvce of men awaiting resur- 
rection. The celebrated Shaensensen, or "Book of the Re- 
surrection," has been translated by Brugsch. Chapters 54 
to 58 describe God giving the deceased the breath of life 
after his soul and body had been purified. The god Ptah 
is said to fashion his flesh anew. One chapter, however, 
makes the serpent Nehbka necessary to man's reviving. 
The 89th chapter shows conclusively that, for the resurrec- 
tion to be complete, the soul must be re-united to the 
body. " Let my soul come to me,"' cries the Osirian, 
" wherever it may be, that my khou (soul) may be with 
mer The 154th chapter is entitled, " Leave not the corpse 
to dissolve." Anubis is entreated to save the body from 
destruction. There is the great hope that, as Isis collected 
the various scattered mem.bers of her husband, so will 
the bodies of the Osirians be eventually collected and 

A nineteenth-dynasty monument — a statuette — has a 
human-headed dove over the breast, with its wings 
extended. The early Christians, nearly two thousand 
years afterwards, used the same symbol for the same idea 
of the resurrection of the body. Ra is the god to effect 
the change : " he who makes the morning come forth." 
Brugsch says, " Venus, the star setting at night but rising 
at other times in the morning, was a type of the resurrec- 
tion." The bound arm of the god Khem is alluded to 
in the 145th chapter of the Ritual, where a risen soul 
exclaims, " I have overcome my bandages, and can stretch 
my arm." 

A god is pictured pouring something upon a kneeling 
worshipper from a vase having a cross on the top. The 
legend is " Life of the soul." Upon this M. Chabas thinks 
it *' evidently refers to. one of the phases of the resurrec- 

72 Egyptia7i Belief and Alodern Thought. 

tion ; " and that it " shows us that the Egyptians distin- 
guished thus the Hfe of the soul which was obtained by 
means of a divine beverage." 

Augustine had no doubt about the question, saying, 
"The Egyptians alone believe the resurrection, because 
they carefully preserve their dead bodies." The early 
Christians had a similar reverence for the corpse, and 
sought to keep it from mutilation or destruction, because 
they expected the resurrection of the identical body. As 
our countrymen most cruelly and wickedly added to the 
sufferings of Mahometan rebels in India, in blowing them 
to pieces from cannon, by that hazarding, in Mahometan 
minds, the integrity of future resurrection, so Roman 
Emperors tortured the minds of Christian martyrs in 
ordering the burning or cutting in pieces of their bodies. 
Lenormant thinks "it necessarily led to inspire a great 
respect for the remains of the dead, since they would one 
day be recalled to life, and that has been the origin of 
the custom of embalming the dead." 

Ithyphallic representations set forth the resurrection of 
the body. One of these was a god with a green face, a 
sun's disk on each side, and stars around, while below the 
prominent member sat several small figures, as men waiting 
for the exertion of the resurrecting power of the Deity. 
As Mariette Bey properly remarks, " These images only 
symbolize in a very expressive manner the creative power 
of Nature, without obscene intention. It is another way 
of expressing celestial generation, which shall cause the 
deceased to enter into a new life." 

The last-named author, in mentioning particulars of the 
tablet sacred to the memory of a prophet of Osiris, says of 
him : " Menai has sacrificed to all the funeral divinities, he 
has endured all the trials ; he has confronted the Supreme 
Judge, and been proclaimed just ; by his virtue he has 

Resurrection of the Dead. 73 

deserved to commence the Second Life, which will have 
no death. The soul goes now to re-unite itself ivith the 
body, and at the centre of the solar disk appears the 
scarabeus as the symbol of that resurrection." 

It is this fact which gives importance to the scarabeus 
beetle. No symbol is more honoured, none is so universal. 
On all sorts of monuments, on articles of furniture, on 
mummy remains, on ornaments and toys, this creature is 
conspicuous, and sets forth in most vivid light the faith 
of the Egyptians in the resurrection. The idea of trans- 
formation is, according to Pierret, ''explained to us by 
the scarabeus hieroglyphic of the word kheper, which 
signifies to be, to become, to erects 

Among the symbols of this recovery of the body may be 
mentioned a couple of trees beside a corpse, so illustrating 
latent vegetation. The dead may be seen pressing a bird 
to its side, to mark prospective flight. It was then realized 
what Euripides expressed : " To live is to die, and to die is. 
to live." 

The return of the soul to the body, shown by the human- 
headed bird flying toward the mummy, is a common illus- 
tration of the change. In one instance, Anubis is seen in 
the act of removing part of the mummy garments, that 
the soul may have readier access to its old partner. 
Sometimes, the bird hovers over the corpse, while above 
it may be detected the rising sun. Deveria notes that it 
" unites itself to the sahou, so as to insure the preservation 
of the perishable substance;" and yet, he oddly enough 
says, " that does not involve the resurrection of the mortal 

M. Rouge, on the other hand, is more hopeful. "The 
justified soul," he observes, "once arrived at a certain 
period of its peregrinations, should be united to its body, 
never more to be separated from it. It is the remem- 

74 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thoitght. 

brance of this great doctrine which these little cenotaphs 
explain in a sensible manner to our eyes, where the soul 
appears to come to awaken the body, which is stretched 
upon its bed of repose." 

" The hours of happiness without termination," says the 
curator of the Boulaq Museum, "will only come when the 
body shall have been united to the ethereal principle which 
has already once animated it. Then will begin that second 
life which death will no more be able to reach. The man 
then, identified with Osiris, will be eternally just and 
eternally good." 

This is what Professor Maspero may mean, in saying, 
'*The delivered Intelligence retakes its luminous envelope, 
and becomes demon." A wooden Osirian statuette, obtained 

from a tomb, carried this text : " Oh ! Osiris N (name 

of departed) ! Rise again in holy earth, august mummy 
in the cofhn, under thy corporeal substances." 

The resurrection is illustrated in one of the Osiric 
pictures. There the god, in mummy attire, and reclining 
on his bier, is just commencing his recovery. He is un- 
loosening the envelope, and has already got out his hands 
from the bondage, while his face assumes the form of a 
young and healthy man. Above him is beheld the deity 
ithyphallic Amoun, and the body of a bird, with the 
legend of " Amoun Ra, august soul of Osiris reposes upon 
his body in the dwelling of his Mesekh (place of birth)." 
Further on it is said, "Thy august soul is above thy body ; 
it will remove no more from thee." 

A remarkable style of vegetating Osiris, to symbolize 
the resurrection, is cited by one author. The mummied 
god is lying on the bier, with a bird at the head and a 
disk goddess at the foot. From the body of Osiris are 
springing up six trees, with leaves on each side ; the trees 
are from between the site of the heart down to the knee. 

Restirredion of the Dead, 75 

Deveria directs attention to the '' Book of the Resurrec- 
tion,'^ a part of the Egyptian Scriptures ; saying, " At all 
times one remarks in this writing a tendency to the doc- 
trine of the resurrection of the body more marked than 
in anterior compositions." On a stele of the eighteenth 
dynasty is a prayer for " the wish for the resurrection in 
his living soul." The song, by the chanting of which Isis 
caused the recovery of her husband to life, was known as 
the " Song of the Resurrection." 

The resurrection is exhibited in figures of the mummied 
god Khem. His left arm is inert, or weakened, or in a 
rudimentary state, hidden under the envelope ; but his 
right arm is free, and is raised above his head in the atti- 
tude of a sower of seed. Dollinger marks a similar symbol 
of corn, which " points to his almighty powers of creation ; 
and, as he is the creator of the grain of corn, which, after 
corruption, springs up afresh, so by his power, also, shall 
the resurrection take place." Ptah, according to Deveria, 
*' is the inert or material form of Osiris, who will become 
Sokari to be re-born, and afterwards be Harmachus." 

This union of soul and body cannot take place till after 
the final judgment. The same opinion has been generally 
held by Christians and by Mahometans. In the 149th 
chapter of the Ritual occur these words : " I raise again 
my heart after the weakness. I raise myself I re-unite 
myself (my substances). I fly away to the heaven, I 
descend upon earth each day." 

So simple a faith in the resurrection in those early times 
suggests a statement of Colonel Marshall's about the 
aboriginal Todas of India : " One of the reasons for their 
viewing the future entirely without apprehension appears 
to me to be an intuitive but unobstructive appreciation 
of the simplicity and harmlessness of their own natures." 

Dr. Lee has some interesting remarks upon a picture 

76 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

of NoLit or Neith, the Divine Mother, or overhanging 
firmament : — 

" Falling down to the earth as it were, away from 
the etherial or blue figure (Nout), is the body of a man 
painted in the usual red colour, under which the Egyptians 
chose to represent themselves, while, standing up, is 
another figure of a man, but painted blue, extending his 
arms as if rising toward the firmament above. This most 
rare and interesting picture not only seems to bear the 
direct allusion to the dogma of immortality of the soul, 
but also to embody the very idea of the manner of the 
resurrection of the dead, as conveyed by the words in 
verse 44 of the 15th chapter of the First of Corinthians. 
* It is sown a natural body (signified by the red figure 
falling to the earth), it is raised a spiritual body ' (signi- 
fied by the blue figure and its position)." 

The resurrection of the body with the Egyptians was a 
doctrine having its phases. There can be no doubt that, 
though pure at one time, it was pantheistic at the era of 
almost universal pantheism, just as Christianity arose to 
revive the old dogma, which some regard as a portion of 
primitive revealed truth. 

That pleasing expounder of myths, Mr. Baring-Gould, 
has some thoughtful remarks on this subject. "The doc- 
trine," says he, " of the soul being transported to heaven, 
and of its happiness being completed at death, finds no 
place in the Bible, nor in the liturgies of any brand — 
Greek, Roman, or Anglican — of the Church Catholic. Yet 
this was the tenet of our Keltic forefathers, and it has 
maintained itself in English Protestantism, so as to divest 
the doctrine of the resurrection of the body of its grasp 
on the popular mind." 

It may be added that, while some moderns are so un- 
scientific, and so un-Pauline, as to contend for the resurrec- 

Resurrection of the Dead. "jj 

tian of this Identical and momentarily changing body, the 
Egyptians relied on the resurrection of what Paul calls the 
glorified-body, sahon, which remained with the corpse till 
the soul had been purged of its sin, and which made the 
body sacred while so staying with it ; but it does not 
appear that they thought the mummied frame, with the 
intestines in the vases, ever went to heaven. 


ABSURD as this notion may appear to a modern Euro- 
pean, there can be no doubt that it ranks among 
the very oldest entertained by man. It would seem, by 
the approximate universality of this opinion throughout 
the world, that it was not so out of joint with reason as 
some have supposed, or that it supplied a felt want. It is, 
after all, but a form of purgatory, or the intermediate state. 

Re-incarnation is the putting on of flesh again ; in other 
words, born again in another material form. The same in- 
dividual assumes various bodies, after a greater or lesser 
waiting for a new abode. Thus, according to some authors, 
Adam was reproduced in Noah, Elijah, and other Bible 
celebrities. Such writers note the silence of the Saviour, 
when asked by the disciples whether or no John the 
Baptist were Elijah come again ; and, whether the blind 
man were boni blind because of his own sin } Many 
Christian ministers, at different times, have seen no diffi- 
culty in accepting re-incarnation as agreeable to Scripture 

Poets might be excused uttering any sentiment; yet 
Southey once said, " The system of progressive existences 
seems, of all others, the most benevolent." But it is dis- 
tinctly founded upon the idea that this is not our only life 
on earth, accepting that as the sphere of probation. An 
infant may take one breath of outer air, and die ; a child 
may live only through the few years of supposed non- 

Re-hicayiiation ; or^ Transmigration of Sotds, 79 

responsibility ; a man may have diseased brain, or defec- 
tive brain, and be idiotic or weak-headed for Hfe ; a woman 
may be under the tyranny of evil custom, arresting the 
progress of good by the restraint of will ; one dwells in St. 
Giles's amidst moral degradation, and another among be- 
nighted savages. Something seems wanting to vindicate 
Divine Providence, to vindicate the goodness and justice of 
Deity to all the race. It was, then, natural that some pro- 
posed a return to earth, under other conditions, to carry on 
the work of spiritual progression and soul discipline. The 
pampered sensualist returned a beggar; the proud oppressor, 
a slave ; the selfish woman of fashion, a seamstress. A turn 
of the wheel gave a chance for the development of neglected 
or abused intelligence and feeHng. Hence the popularity 
of re-incarnation in all climes and times. 

The Transmigration of Souls has been made ridiculous 
to us by the stories of change into different animal, and even 
vegetable, forms. It has appeared absurd for a Solomon 
to come back as an owl ; Nero, as a lamb ; Caesar, as a 
hare ; Plato, as a herring ; or Solon, as a cabbage. Doubt- 
less, the old writers meant to describe characters under 
the semblance of animal and vegetable life, and mark the 
reward of virtue and vice by the nature of form assumed. 

The expurgation of evil was thus thought gradually but 
certainly accomplished. In this way we have the old 
doctrine run into purgatory. But, as the sacred Panea- 
tantra of India declares, "An evil act follows a man, 
passing through one hundred thousand transmigrations." 
The Mann speaks of ''the glidings of the soul through ten 
millions of other wombs." Kapila writes : " All souls on 
first union with matter had a subtle vehicle, image of the 
body, which carries the passive soul from one material 
dwelling to another." M. Basnage, the learned historian 
of the Jews, said : " By this second death is not considered 

8o Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

hell, but that which happens when a soul has a second time 
animated a body." 

All this depends upon another idea, that of Prc-existence. 

This doctrine has found favour with good men of all 
creeds. The foundation may be that expressed by Leibnitz : 
" Every germ has its pre-existence." Why not, then, the 
human soul .-* Dr. Doherty echoes a rather common thought, 
when saying, "It is the soul which originates the body." 
The author of Terre et del says : " The individual himself 
has determined in an anterior life the initial conditions of 
his present life." Some give the waiting soul the power of 
selecting body. The Mormons hold that many souls have 
waited long for their coming with polygamous intent. 
Some dream of what they had before done. Wordsworth 


" I guess not what this tells of Being past, 
Nor what it augurs of the hfe to come." 

The selected baby Buddha of Thibet is said to prove 
itself the returned Grand Lama, by telling the priests some 
secret of its former earthly existence. The Egyptian idea 
of Traiisforjnation has been variously interpreted. De 
Briere gives it an astronomical colouring. " The sensitive 
soul," he says, " re-entered by the gate of the gods, or the 
Capricorn, into the Amenthe, the watery heavens, where it 
dwelt always with pleasure ; until, descending by the gate 
of men, or the Cancer, it came to animate a new body." 
By the rule of Higgins' " Anacalypsis," kings whose names 
end in chc?'cs, as Mencheres, builder of the Third Pyramid, 
were renewed incarnations of the cJicrcs ; that is, were all 
the same individual. Plutarch took a pantheistic view of 
the doctrine when, referring to the search for the members 
of Osiris by Isis, he thought she " receives into her bosom 
the substances which perish, in order to make them go forth 
thence afterwards, and reproduce them anew." 

Re- Incarnation ; ^r, Transmigration of Souls. 8 1 

While, in tablet and other monumental illustrations, the 
other life is represented so like this one, it may be that 
another phase of earthly being is being pointed out. 

Thus, one of the most ancient of tombs is of one Sabou. 
The mastaba was adorned with pictures of his comfortable 
state. He is fishing, hunting, ploughing, boating, or being 
carried in a palanquin. His servants wait upon him, his 
friends surround him, he counts his flocks and herds, he 
receives gifts, he offers sacrifices. '* The intention of these 
pictures," writes Mariette Bey, " is evident. Sabou is dead. 
But he will see in the other world all those whom he has 
known in this. He will live again the same life without 
having to support grief, or to fear another death. All the 
curious representations we have analysed have no other 
end but to show him to us after his death, arriving at one 
of the forms of supreme happiness promised to the just." 

If a re-incarnation, that worthy person was clearly to 
have a good time of it here. Dennis, in his " Etruria," has 
some reason for what he says : " This Elysium was but a 
glorification of the present state of existence ; the same 
pursuits, amusements, and pleasures they had relished in 
this life they expected in the next, but divested of their 
sting, and enhanced by increased capacities of enjoyment ; 
to celebrate this great event, to us so solemn, by feasting 
and joviality, was not with them unbecoming." But re- 
incarnationists regard this scene as the welcome of a future 
return to earth, and to earthly joys. 

Herodotus was the first foreigner to write about Egypt. 
He knew, evidently, a little more than he spoke about, 
though not, like Pythagoras, who never zvrote, admitted 
into the higher mysteries. He informs his readers that 
the Egyptians " are the earliest who have spoken of this 
doctrine, according to which the soul of man is immortal ; 
and, after the destruction of the body, enters ever into a 

82 Egyptian Belief and Modern TJiought. 

newly born being. When, say they, it has passed through 
all the animals of the earth and sea, and all the birds, it 
will re-enter the body of a new-born man. The circuit 
is accomplished in three thousand years." 

But Pierius assumes another date, " for it was," he says, 
"the opinion of the Egyptians that in the revolution of 
thirty-six thousand years all things shall be restored to the 
former state." Some great scientists contend for much the 
same thing, seeing in nature a sort of kaleidoscope pre- 
senting a fixed number of combinations, and then com- 
mencing another revolution. 

This is hardly Progressive Evolution. The onward 
movement of the soul, in one ever advancing progress, 
is more to the sympathy of other minds. Not a few 
Christian men can admit, in the language of the Rev. A. R. 
Fitchett, that evolution "presented a higher view of the 
wisdom and power of the Divine Artificer, than if each 
link in the long chain leaped out of nothingn-ess at the fiat 
of Omnipotence." 

The Ritual is full of allusions to the doctrine. Chapters 
26 to 30 relate to the preservation of the heart or life 
for this purpose. One exclaims, " The heart of my mother ! 
My heart of my existence on earth ! My heart for my 
transformations ! " Another prays for a deceased friend : 
" May he accomplish all the transformations he desires ! " 
The book goes on the assumption, as Deveria says, that 
"the body is renewing itself without ceasing;" and "could 
not, in fact, preserve that individuality which characterizes 
the eternal soul." 

This French writer shows how this esoteric doctrine was 
revealed in that portion of sacred Scripture, known as the 
^' Book of that which is in the Lower Hemisphere." He 
admits that " the funeral books shows us clearly that resur- 
rection was, in reality, but a renovation, leading to a new 

Re- Incarnation ; or, Transmigration of Souls. '^^ 

existence, a new infancy, and a new youth." He says 
further, " The sahou was not truly the mortal body. It 
was a new being formed by the re-union of corporeal ele- 
ments elaborated by nature, and in which the soul was 
reborn in order to accomplish a new terrestrial existence 
under many forms. The ancient philosophers approached 
the same sense in saying corriiptio tmius, generatio alterins. 
These successive changes were symbolically personified 
in the god Sokari. The beings who passed through them 
were called s'eb-ti or oiis'ab-ti (changeable or volatile), and 
represented in the tombs by very small funereal figures." 

Rouge lays it down that " for the Egyptians these trans- 
formations cannot be accomplished on earth ; the soul or 
the larva of the deceased proclaimed y>/j-/ was alone justified 
in it, and the power to assume the transformations which 
best pleased it was one of its privileges." The Viscount has 
this description of a sarcophagus : " The right side presents 
six personages in the attitude of prayer before a body 
without head shut up in an ^gg. This ithyphallic body's 
seed is collected by the first two personages. This scene 
symbolizes the perpetual cycle of life, which is re-born from 
the dead." 

In one place a person records his having passed through 
various degrees of existence. He had been in succession a 
scarabeus, a hawk, a serpent, a bennou, an ibis, a dog, and 
a ram. The symbol of this was a soul in the folds of a ser- 
pent. The soul, to secure its safety amidst the dangers of 
Hades, was said to assume the form of a god. 

Ra, on one tomb, is supposed to say this of himself : 
" Supreme Power — He who imparts the breath of life to 
the souls (that are) in this place ; they receive it and 
develop." Mr. Cooper sees here a reference to the crea- 
tion of the pre-existent souls of mankind. As the ancients 
never realized the extinction of matter, they were led to 

84 Egyptian Belief and Moeiern Thottght. 

the conception of its constant existence from all eternity. 
Souls, therefore, progressing or changing through the ages, 
could only have originated with the beginning of all things. 
They dated the pre-existence of souls with the pre-existence 
of matter. 

A priest, named Penteni, asks, upon his funeral stele, 
"to be recognized as justified in Amenti near Osiris, to 
respire sacred prayers, and to enjoy all the ordinary offer- 
ings of the deceased." But then we have the prayer that 
he might " go forth as a living soul, to take all the forms 
which may please him." Pierret may well say of the 
changes, " they are only transformations." 

Nothing is more common upon funeral monuments than 
the expression of a desire to go out and in as the person 
might please. The prayer is almost universal, that the man 
may pass through transformations most agreeable to him- 
self " We know," says Chabas, "" that such was the principal 
beatitude of the elect of the Egyptian heaven ; it allowed 
the faculty of transformation into all the universe under 
the form wished for." The god Khepra, with folding wings, 
symbolized the metamorphoses. 

But we may demur to the materialistic conclusion of 
M. Deveria. " The funeral books," he observes, " show us 
clearly that resurrection was, in reality, but a renovation 
leading to a new existence, a new infancy, and a new 
youth. That which was for the vulgar the resurrection of 
the body was, then, for the initiated only the eternal renova- 
tion of nature." Pierret puts it thus : " The deceased is 
god ; that is to say, he renews himself during millions of 
years." This is, of course, pure pantheism. " The bodies," 
adds he, '' metamorphose themselves eternally by the ex- 
change of their molecules." Elsewhere, he writes of the 
" dissolution of the material body in giving the elements to 
metamorphoses." In this, pure materialism is recognized. 


A S not a few so-called atheists believe in their own 
-^~^ immortality, it does not seem necessary that the 
Egyptians should add to their dogma of the Hereafter, a 
belief in Celestial Powers. But, as already seen by the 
reader, those ancient people indissolubly associated the 
state with gods, and were impelled to practise earthly 
virtues to secure a happy future at the hand of these 
deities. If the immortality was a living faith, so was the 
piety to the gods. 

Mythology, as Bunsen well remarks, is " one of the poles 
of existence in every nation ; " and the investigation of it is 
a grateful task. Though the Egyptian was at the Christian 
era "a pagan suckled in a creed outworn,'-' and which 
had, to a great extent, gone to Professor Owen's " limbo of 
all hasty blunders," yet there had been a time, a long en- 
during one, when his mythology was not only a power for 
good, but contained elements worthy of our respect. 

The Egyptians had no sympathy with Pliny's philosophy, 
that " to seek for other beings external to it is not only 
useless to man, but beyond his powers." They leaned to 
the other opinion, that, so useful was it, if there had been 
no God it were well to create one. Lucian declared that 
" they were reputed the first who had a conception of 
the gods, an acquaintance with religious matters, and a 
knowledge of sacred names." Eusebius quotes an old 
oracle of Apollo respecting them : " They before all others 
disclosed by infinite actions the path that leads to the 

86 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

How ancient this theology was, can never be known. 
The one marvel is that it should have continued so long, 
with so little interruption, and with so trifling a variation. 
" With the exception of some additions to the catalogue of 
minor deities/' says Wilkinson, ** and an alteration in the 
name of Amun, we perceive no change in the religion from 
the earliest times to the reigns of the Ptolemies and Caesars." 
An author remarks that, from the documents at Turin about 
Sotimes the priest, under the eighteenth dynasty, to those 
at Liverpool of Apries of the twenty-sixth dynasty, " the 
religion of Egypt had undergone no alteration." At the 
same time Mr. W. R. Cooper is warranted in affirming the 
belief to have been " purest and grandest in its earliest 
stages of dogma." 

It is easy to deride the people for the worship of animals ; 
but, apart from the fact that it was mere symbolism, it was 
surely better to elevate creatures to deities than degrade 
gods to the level of beasts. 

Anyhow, the Egyptians had a better class of divinities 
than their neighbours. They needed not to blush for them 
before a pure-minded wife or modest daughter. These 
celestials had none of the frivolity, sensuality, deceit, and 
violence attributed by Greeks to theirs, though a faithful 
reflex of national character. Judged by that moral stand- 
ard, if, in Egypt, we have no voluptuous liveliness, we have 
chastity ; if no brilliancy, we have truthfulness ; if no 
demonstrative, uncertain vigour, we have quiet, consistent 
dignity. " There was," says Cooper, ''to the Egyptian 
mind something repugnant in the familiarity with which 
the adjacent nations regarded their deities, with their 
almost affectionate companionship and nearly irreverent 
invitations to the gods to share their pleasures, and par- 
take of their festivities." 

The Egyptian deities present themselves to us moderns. 

Gods and their Meaning. 87 

like Minerva, sprung up at once fully armed. From the 
very first they stand before us old, established, and 
honoured. If, as Herodotus has it, the ancients worshipped 
gods without names, it must have been at an era before 
anything the Nile monuments indicate. 

'* Unfortunately," says Wilkinson, "an impenetrable veil, 
concealing ftf-om our view the earliest periods of Egyptian 
history, forbids us to ascertain the original character of the 
religion ; we are introduced to it as to the civilization of 
that people, when already fully perfected." Anubis, Thoth, 
Osiris, Horus, Isis, Khem, Hathor, etc., were there when the 
pyramid was built. A stone found near that building has 
this inscription, referring to Khoufou or Cheops: " Khoufou 
has cleared the temple of Isis," etc. Hathor of the Mem- 
nonia is also mentioned. It is added that "he has re- 
newed the divine offerings, and he has built for them a 
stone temple." Whatever the date of that stone, " it is not 
less certain," affirms Mariette Bey, "that Cheops restored 
a temple already existing, and assured to it revenues in 
sacred offerings. We see by that, that at that epoch, so 
prodigiously distant, Egyptian civilization was shining with 
the brightest lustre." The date of Khoufou he considers 
B.C. 4200. 

These gods, though commonly reputed individuals, 
clearly evidence themselves as mere attributes of Deity by 
the way in which they appear to slide one into another. 
The following important declaration is from the eminent 
Egyptologist, Sir Gardner Wilkinson :— 

" Each of these whose figures or emblems were adopted, 
was only an emanation or deified attribute of the same 
Great Being, to whom they ascribed various characters, 
according to the several offices he was supposed to perform. 
When to Osiris, or the Goodness of the Deity, the emblems 
of Phtha, the creative power, were assigned, no change was 

88 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

made in the character of the former ; since goodness was 
as much a part of the original deity from whom both were 
derived, as was the power with which he had created the 
world. And if, as sometimes happens, Amun-re is repre- 
sented making offerings to Osiris, it will be recollected 
that one attribute might be permitted to show respect to 
the other, without derogating from its own dignity." 

F. Lenormant says : " In the sanctuaries of Egypt, they 
divided the properties of Nature, and consequently of 
Divinity, into seven abstract qualities characterized each 
by an emblem, and which are matter, cohesion, fluxion, 
coagulation, accumulation, station, and division." Sellon 
identifies the theology with the Indian, saying, " If we 
substitute Osiris for Brahma, Horus for Vishnu, Typhon 
for Siva, and Isis for the Sacti, or female power, the narra- 
tive agrees in every respect." 

It must be conceded that the old faith had died out 
in Egypt, as in Greece and Rome, before Christianity or 
Mahometanism came to replace it. Apuleius gives a re- 
markable passage from the Asclepian dialogue : — 

*' It -is not lawful that you shall be ignorant that the 
time will come when it may seem that the Egyptians have 
in vain, with a pious mind and sedulous religion, paid 
attention to Divinity ; and all their holy veneration shall 
become void, and of no effect. For Divinity shall return 
back from earth to heaven. Egypt shall be forsaken, and 
the land which was the seat of Divinity shall be destitute 
of religion, and deprived of the presence of the gods. O 
Egypt ! Egypt ! fables shall alone remain of thy religion, 
and those such as will be incredible to posterity ; zvoi'ds 
atone shatt be engraven on stones, narrating thy pious deeds — 
the only monuments that will attest thy piety." 

The absence of images in the very early periods has 
been repeatedly noticed. Mariette Bey writes : *' The com- 

Gods and their Meaning, 89 

plete absence of the figures of the gods in the midst of 
the innumerable scenes which the mastaba of the ancient 
Empire have given back to us, is, in fact, an anomaly 
which constitutes a very decided character." We read of 
'' an intentional absence of the representations of divini- 
ties," even as late as the thirteenth dynasty. Only their 
names appear. 

And yet, as the Emperor Julian observes : " He who is a 
lover of Divinity, gladly surveys the statues and images of 
the gods, at the same time venerating and fearing with 
a holy dread the gods who invisibly behold him." If the 
stone before mentioned be accepted, as Mariette Bey 
admits, then, as he says, Cheops " renewed the personal 
of the statues of gold, silver, bronze, and wood, which 
adorned the sanctuary.^' The Disk worshippers were 
certainly opposed to image worship, which was by force put 
down by Amenoph III. 

We will now turn to the gods themselves. 

The Egyptian gods were many, but nothing in pro- 
portion to the thirty thousand assumed for Greek worship, 
or the millions for Hindoo. Many names are given to the 
same deity ; that is, to the same expression of thought. 

The multitude of Divinities could be reduced 
to the few simple attributes of the godhead. 
Lenormant put it another way : " All the tribes of its 
gods may be reduced to a very small number of elements, 
infinitely diversified in outward expression." Grebant 
calls them " names which one Being received in its dif- 
ferent rolesr Pierret writes : " The innumerable gods of 
the Pantheon are only the mise en scene of the unique god 
in his different roles'' Beauregard says : *' The Egyptian 
religion has the communion of Divine essences, as Chris- 
tianity has the communion of saints." He styles the gods 
plastic hieroglyphs. Well might Epicurus declare : " The 

90 Egyptian Belief and Modei^n TJionght. 

gods exist, but they are not what the rabble suppose them 
to be." 

In the reading of hieroglyphics we catch a variety of 
names indicating objects of worship, but are totally unable 
to describe them, or give them their just value. Without 
doubt, a number of them only appear in the later days of 
the monarchy, or even after the loss of national inde- 
pendence. Still, it must be admitted that there are 
those of minor account, or of whom we are ignorant, who 
come before us on monuments at least 3000 years before 
the Christian era. We recognize them in the sixth, fifth, 
and even fourth dynasty. Occasionally, a simple adjec- 
tive draws a little light toward their meaning. The so- 
called Reign of the Gods, an astronomical period, lasted 
for 43,900 years. 

Unlike the Romans, the Egyptians were not given to re- 
ceive the gods of other nations into their Pantheon. A few 
Asiatic ones would be naturally expected in a land border- 
ing on Asia, and whose population was being constantly 
fed by Asiatic immigration or Asiatic conquest. In fact, 
there is reason to believe that the Delta was from the days 
of the Hycsos, or Shepherd Kings, inhabited by a foreign 
Asiatic race. These, while evidently accepting the religion 
of the land, retained the worship of their own special 
celestial rulers. The following names may be accepted as 
evidence : — Set, Reseph, Kuin, Bal or Baal, Katesch, and 

Among the deities about whom we know little or nothing, 
may be mentioned the following : — Tap, a Thebes goddess ; 
Ahi, Lord of the heart ; Uertheku, serpent goddess ; 
Nehimeon, with temple on her head ; Kek, god of dark- 
ness ; Kekt, goddess of darkness ; Af, ram-headed ; Geta, 
god of eternity ; Onouris, the Mars ; Nepra, of corn ; 
Kahi, a goddess ; Ho and Bai, snake goddesses ; Muntra, 

Gods and their Meaning. 91 

of Ipsambul ; a three-headed god with wings ; Ranno, the 
nurse; an old goddess of harvest, with serpent head; Maa 
and Shu, gods of hght; Ataruamterhemutranu, the revealer ; 
Moui or Meni, son of Athor ; Tafne, daughter of the sun, 
with head of lioness ; Hobs, with lion's head ; Hak, lady 
of heaven; Souben; Heh, god of time, and Heht, goddess 
of time ; Nau, goddess of the hour ; Sawek, goddess of 
books ; Anta, goddess of war ; Schant, lady of heaven ; 
Xevt-neb-s, Lord of the West. Shoup is represented 
with female breasts, a crocodile head, and the body of 
a hippopotamus. Mandu, of Mendes, is hawk-headed, a 
solar deity. Hamen, a goddess, occurs in the thirteenth 
•dynasty. Savak was the crocodile-headed one of Ombos. 
Sofh, goddess of writing, known in the fourth dynasty, wore 
a palm leaf and horns on her head. There was the god- 
dess of libraries. There were the forty-two gods, accusers, 
or assessors of Hades at the judgment. Sefekh, according 
to M. Rouge, was the goddess of holy Scripture. There 
was a two-sworded god, supposed a type of Horus ; but 
Hapi, the jackal-headed, has two swords. Goni was 
thought to be Hercules by Champollion. Av was disk- 
headed ; and Apheru, director of roads. Knit, with lion- 
head, was " punisher of souls." Ranpu, goddess of war, 
had a male dress, and wore a sword. The genius of the 
Lower Country was a winged snake, with the head-dress of 
Osiris. Eilethyia or Ilethia, was the genius of the Upper 
Country, having a cap and two ostrich feathers, or a 
vulture's head. The four gods of the dead are named in 
the "Funeral Rites " chapter. Thmei, goddess of justice, 
with one feather, sits holding up a cross, but with eyes 

There was a headless god, from whose trunk rose two 
feathers. Hat, lord of heaven, was of Agathdaaen. Amta 
was a naked goddess, probably from Asia. Baneteru was 

92 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought, 

the soul of the gods. Tefnut, the cow, was wife to Shu. 
Coucoupha is seen with a sceptre in hand, but in an animal 
form. Amenti was the reputed goddess of Hades. Milt 
had a water plant for her emblem. The goddess of East 
and West may be observed holding up the heavens on a 
zodiac. Ap-na-tenu was on a twelfth dynasty monument. 
To or Ai had a black body and an ostrich feather. Nefer- 
Toum, son of Pasht, a solar god, with lotus on head, stands 
on a lion, having a sword in his right hand. 

Haka or Hak, was a frog-headed deity of the twelfth 
dynasty. Hekte, the lion-headed with a disk, is painted 
red, and has a staff in the right hand, and a cross in 
the left. Ombo, or Obte, was a Typhonic form, having 
a long snout and erect square ears. Ratta was at the 
accouchement of queens. Amanta was a female develop- 
ment of Ammon. Imhotep, the god of learning, is the 
Greek Imouthes. He was the son of Ptah, and plays the 
part of Hermes, having a book upon his knees. Amt, the 
devourer, has the head of a crocodile and body of hippo- 
potamus. Mentu, of Hermonthis, means the sun. Mem- 
non, whose gigantic image still excites the wonder of the 
traveller, bears, according to Rouge, the legend of " Bene- 
ficent god, son of the Sun, united with the gods." 
Harmachis, sphinx deity, is elsewhere described. Selk, 
scorpion goddess, serves in Hades. Sebek is a solar deity, 
or form of Horus. Aten often occurs on tablets of the 
eighteenth dynasty, and is described as " one god, living in 
truth." Mariette Bey writes : *' Aten has by some authors 
been associated with Adonai of the Semitic religions," 
the Adonai of the Old Testament. 

Among the minor gods there are some of early date. 
Petmutf, dweller in the ocean, was known under the sixth 
dynasty. Bast is of the preceding line of kings. Betmes 
is cited on monuments in the tombs of Gizeh, during the 

Gods and their Meaning. 93 

fourth or Pyramid dynasty. Anoukis of Elephantine, is a 
goddess whose head is only a sheaf of corn spread out. 
Of her Mariette Bey says : " I believe this is of the sixth 
dynasty." Schon, son of the sun, dates from the fifth 
dynasty. But there is this inscription to a god on a monu- 
ment of Cephren, fourth dynasty, " Hor, strong hearted, 
the god Hor, great god, lord of diadems." Hor is hawk- 

Among the gods found on an altar of the sixth dynasty, 
B.C. 3500, are the following : Osiris, Anubis, Horus, Athor, 
Bast, Ra, Taour, Kartes, Ptah, Set, Isis, Khem, Nephthys, 
Shu, Tephnu, Seb, Nout, Thoth, Satemi, Turn, Khepera, 
Kheper, Sabak, and the Scarabeus. 

Those who fancy the minor gods are but genii, or guar- 
dian spirits, compare them with the saints of more modern 
days. Formerly the elements were supposed to be under 
their control, and were addressed in prayer accordingly. 
It is at least a singular fact, brought forward by Rouge in 
a communication to a learned society in Paris, that, during 
the third and fourth centuries, the period of so called 
primitive Christianity — but by no means synonymous with 
the Christianity of the Gospels — the Christians of Egypt 
venerated a large number of patron saints. The survival 
of ancient ideas may be imagined from the following selec- 
tion of our own times : — 

Agatha, for nurses ; Francis, for literary men ; Felicitas, 
for children ; Cecilia, for musicians ; Gregory, for literature ; 
Julian, for pilgrims; Cosmas and Damien, for philosophers; 
Barbara, for captives ; Winifred, for virgins ; Sylvester 
and Hubert, for woodmen or hunters ; Thomas, for di- 
vines ; Luke, for printers ; Florian, against fire ; Eloy, for 
smiths ; Wilfred, for bakers ; Joseph, for carpenters ; Ar- 
nold, for millers ; Yves, for lawyers ; Mathurin, for fools ; 
Anne, for lost property ; Osyth, for women who have lost 

94 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought, 

their keys ; Nicholas, for thieves ; and Etherbert, against 

Ascending in the scale of deity, and popularity of deities, 
we proceed with the Egyptian Pantheon. 

Sun gods come before us in wild confusion. Ra is 
eminently the chief of all. Atoum or Toum, god of the 
underworld, represents the sun before rising ; his wife is 
Arusaa; Rouge calls him "source of life." He is blue, in 
a green tunic, with a lotus on head, and a gold diadem. 
Nowre- Atoum, the rising sun, has two long feathers coming 
out of a lotus. In the Ritual, or Egyptian Scriptures, it is 
written: "I am Atum, making the heavens, creating beings, 
self-created, lord of life." The sun at the zenith, is Month, 
a warrior god, with two horns and feathers. Tefnu and 
lousaas are daughters of Ra, the sun. One sun god is a 
sort of Mars, with a sword, and is called Mentou-Ra of 
Hermonthis in the Thebaid. Atmu, the setting sun, 
" protector of the world," has a lotus head, with the heron 
of Heroopolis. As Nofre-Atmu, or Atmu the good, he 
has two feathers and a lotus on the head. Kheper-Ra is 
producer of light. Emphe, with arms up, and four straight 
feathers on the head, is a sun god. So is Anhur, or the 
leader to heaven. This subject is pursued in the chapter 
on Sun Worship. 

The Nile was deified in Hapimou, with beard and 
breasts, as being hermaphrodite. Flowers and fruits were 
about the fat and blue figure, whose chief temple was at 
Nilopolis. Sometimes he is red, to show muddy water at 
the inundation ; else, he is green. The Niloa festival took 
place at the rising of the waters, when it was important to 
please that fickle deity. The wooden image was carried 
from village to village, in solemn procession, with prayers 
and chanting, hoping thus to procure a good inundation. 
With many nations, running water is sacred ; but in Egypt, 

Gods and their Meaning. 95 

the people were too dependent on the river to lack rever- 
ence for it. It may have been among the very earliest 
forms of fetish worship. The Celestial Nile of the Ritual 
Avas Nen-naoic, or primordial water. 
Dr. Birch gives a prayer to that god : " Incline thy face, 

Nile ! coming safe out of the land, vivifying Egypt, 
hiding his dark sources from the light, ordering his sources. 
The streams of his bed are made by the sun, to give life to 
all animals, to water the lands which are destitute, coming 
all along the heavens, loving fragrance, offering grain, ren- 
dering verdant every sacred place of Ptha." 

Maspero writes : " They compared God to the nourish- 
ing Nile, and the evil principle to the desert which besieged 
Egypt with its burning waves ; the war of God against 
the evil principle becomes the war of the Nile against the 
desert." The Hindoo Krishna is, in more respects than 
one, the same as the Nile. He cleared the fens, and cooled 
the conflagrations that had previously troubled India. 

Water, in the abstract, was no less a deity than the 
Nile. It has been so in all lands, in one form or another, 
being the source of Being, as everything first arose from 
the water. A remarkable Egyptian prayer to water runs 
thus : " O Water! father of the gods, turn thy face toward 
me. I am the son of the great gods, come to me. Thou 
art the water which makes eternally young again." To 
this Water replies : '' I am Atoum, I am the preferred of 
the sun. I am the sacred ibis, I am the water, firstborn 
of Osiris. I come from the celestial abyss with the sun, 

1 am he who bears the heavens with Ptah." 

A disciple of Max Muller's school will find no difficulty 
in the interpretation of the above, as Natiire Worship. 
Water is the product of the sun, and comes from the abyss 
with the sun. As vapour in the atmosphere, it seems to 
bear up the heavens. 

96 Egyptian Belief and Modem Thought, 

Thme, the goodness of truth and justice, plays an impor- 
tant part in the role of the Last Judgment. She has 
blinkers over her eyes, to denote impartiality of decision. 

Serapis, supposed by some a compound of Sirius the 
Dogstar, and Apis the sacred bull, was a decidedly modern 
deity, who became very fashionable at Pompeii, Rome, etc. 
Porphyry confounds him with Pluto ; another, with Cerbe- 
rus. According to Macrobius, he thus described himself 
in an oracle to some king of Cyprus : — " The strong hea- 
ven is my head, the sea is my belly, my ears are in the 
ether, and the bright light of the sun is my piercing eye."" 
In other words, he is the pantheistic deity. But, according 
to Diodorus, Serapis, Osiris, and Amen, are ''different 
names for one and the same deity." 

Bes was comparatively modern, and would seem to be 
rather Asiatic in origin. He represented two principles, 
the stern and the agreeable. It was as the god of pleasure 
he became so great a favourite with the ladies of Egypt, 
who had his figure on the mirrors, vases, and cosmetic 
vessels belonging to the toilet. He played the harp, and 
joined in the dance. He was, also, the personification of 
the warrior, bearing a lion^s skin on his shoulders, and a 
sword in hand. And yet he had neither the personnel of 
an Adonis nor of a Hercules. He was small in stature, 
squat in figure, with broad and ugly head, having his 
tongue hanging out. The prominence of one member 
pointed him out as a phallic deity, and brought him into 
relation with marital rites. He sometimes carries an oval 
buckler, and holds an ape in his right hand, while a lion 
crouches at his feet. He is a Siva sort of deity. 

Maut, Ma, Mut, was the sitting goddess of the lower 
world, the land of ghosts. With wings bent under her, a 
long robe and a staff, she had a vulture's head as the em- 
bodiment of maternity. The prominent eyes of the bird 

Gods and their Meaning. 97 

suggest the old symbol of Minerva, commonly called owl^s 
eyes, found even in old Troy. She is Nature, or the 
Mother par excellejtce. Occasionally having a lion^s head, 
as Buto, she is never without the double crown of the gods. 
The shrew-mouse is her emblem. She is the mistress of 
the Etesian or North wind, so welcomed in the heat of 
summer by the Egyptians, and truly described as the 
breath of life. It not only refreshed languid bodies, but 
was the harbinger of the Nile's overflow; for it is the north 
wind driving back the rising waters which throws them 
back upon the land in life-giving irrigation. She carries 
the ostrich feather, and bears a hempstalk on her head. 
Her legend is "The opener of the nostrils of the living." 
As the source of life, she has no father, but is the mother 
of the sun. She is represented giving the cross, emblem of 
life, to a king worshipping before her. There is the tomb 
of one of her prophets, dating from the twelfth dynasty. 
In another way, she may be called Isis. On one monu- 
ment she appears bowing before Osiris, the true type of 

Khons or Chonso, son of Maut and Ammon, personi- 
fied the morn. On his shoulder lay the tress of immortal 
youth. In the inscription he is called " Healer of diseases, 
and banisher of evil." The Rev. W. Hislop says his name 
comes from a word meaning to chase. By some he is 
known as the huntsman. There was a Roman god, Consus, 
the concealer of secrets, who presided over horse races. 
Chons carries the whip and crook of Osiris, the tat of 
stability, and the crux ansata. He is, as a leading divinity, 
provided with a hawk's head. Sir Gardner Wilkinson 
regards him as the Egyptian Hercules. 

Seb is celebrated as the Saturn of Egypt, being father 
of Osiris and Isis. His seat was in Abydos, and there are 
records of him as early as the fifth dynasty. The goose 


gS Egyptia^i Belief and Modern Thought. 

that laid the egg of the world is on his head, and is one of 
the first exhibitions of that animal symbol. Seb is often 
painted on coffins. Mariette Bey considers him the type 
of rude matter ; or, as he says, " matter with the germs of 
life, which he conceals in his own breast." He is often 
covered with vegetable growth, springing from his body. 
Nout is his wife. A star is his emblem. He is pictured 
as ithyphallic, lying on the ground, with Nout over him. 

Sekhet or Pasht was at one period the most popular 
of deities, judging from the great variety and excellence 
of her statues in the British Museum. Though the same 
person, the two names may symbolise different attributes. 
Her emblem was the lion or the hedgehog. As Pasht, the 
Avife of Ptah, with the lion's physical qualities, she may 
mean the destroyer, or the disintegrating force at work 
in nature. But as Beset, known under the fifth dynasty, 
and adored at Bubastis, she was the opposite, being the 
element of re-union. This may mean that god is both, 
or that the work of destruction is a part and parcel of 
the business of creation. Modern science confirms the 
correctness of the idea. Rouge speaks of the destructive 
force lying in the sun^s rays, which are equally employed 
in reconstruction. On the monuments, as goddess of North 
Egypt, she is known by the name of Ouati. It is not a 
little curious that northern Egypt was the residence of the 
foreigners of Asiatic origin ; and, as goddess of that part, 
she is esteemed the author of the Asiatic race. As Beset, 
with her sistrum and vase, she was the friend of man. On 
one tablet she is said to "punish the guilty and remove 
defilement." The cat is one of her symbols. Viscount 
Rouge alludes to her two forms of cat-head and lion-head, 
and adds, " Her worship is very ancient, and we find these 
diverse forms used from the twelfth dynasty" ; that is, 
from B.C. 3000. By the appellation of Mehi is she also 

Gods and theij'' Meaning, 99 

known. The lion-headed Mithra of Persia, so called, 
added the ears of a lion to the head of the dog. 

The FOURTEEN GODS of Amenti or Hades, were Atum, 
Osiris, Hapi son of Osiris, Aupu, Kebsennuf son of Osiris, 
Harant'atef, Tahuti, Anubis, Hakmaa-tefef, Anpu, Toser, 
Seb, Nub, and Isis. 

The EIGHT original gods of Egypt were, as some say, 
Ra, Neith, Aroeris, Mut, Khem, Sat, Kneph, and Ammon. 
Some read these as the sun, moon, and planets, including 
Herschel, discovered only this century by moderns but 
known to the ancients. Mr. Kenrick points out that there 
were four pairs, or four representatives, of the masculine 
and feminine forces of nature, viz., Ammon and Mut, Phtah 
and Pasht, Kneph and Neith, Khem and Athor. The eight 
of Memphis were Phtah, Shu, Tefnu, Seb, Nut or Neith, 
Osiris, Isis and Horus, and Athor. The eight of Thebes 
were Amoun-Ra, Mentu, Atum, Shu and Tefnu, Seb, 
Osiris, Set and Nephthys, and Horus and Athor. The 
eight Dii Selecti of Rome were Saturn, Janus, Rhea, Pluto, 
Bacchus, Sol, Luna, and Genius. There were eight cabiri, 
or great gods of the Phoenicians. The Chaldean name of 
Esculapius is the eighth. On a zodiac of B.C. 1322, or B.C. 
2782, we see eight persons in an ^^^ (or boat); and when 
they issued forth, they went to build an altar. There were 
seven Rishis, or holy ones, with Manu, when he was saved 
by Vishnu in an ark. There were eight in Noah's ark, 
being four pairs. Zechariah 'speaks of the creature with 
seven eyes. One refers that to God, and seven masks or 
planetary representatives. 

The TWELVE GODS may be more readily identified with 
Mazzaroth, or the twelve signs of the Zodiac, through which 
the sun passed every year. 

These are variously named. One list is as follows : 
Chons or Khunsu, Tott or Thoth, Kneph, Atmu and 

lOO Egyptian Belief and Modern TJiottght. 

Pasht, and the eight children of Helios, the sun ; viz., Athor, 
Mau, Ma, Tefnu, Maut, Sevek, Seb, and Nutpe or Neith. 
Proclus calls them the " twelve super-celestial gods." The 
poet Ennius gives the Roman list : Vulcan, Jupiter, 
Apollo, Juno, Venus, Mars, Minerva, Vesta, Ceres, Diana, 
Mercury, and Neptune. Of course, half were male and 
half were female. One is reminded of the twelve labours 
of Hercules, the twelve altars to the twelve gods of Athens, 
and other memorials of this mystic number. 

There are nine in a group, called the Paoiits. But there 
were no Diads, or twos, as the Sidonian Baal-Sidon and 
Ashtaroth ; or the Carthaginian Baal-Hammon and Tanith, 
sun and moon. 

Some writers have given a third order of divinities ; con- 
sisting of Seb, Osiris, Isis, Nephthys, Her, Horus, and 

Thoth is one of the most remarkable and mysterious of 
gods. However much we may sympathize with poetical 
and philosophic Greek writers in their system of spiritual- 
izing the old mythologies, we are struck with the strong 
personal character of Thoth. Osiris, Isis, and Typhon, 
undergo so many metamorphoses, that their individuality 
is rendered vague indeed. But Thoth, with his ibis head, 
tablet and pen, stands as the recording angel at the Last 
Judgment, with a definite reality that has a powerful effect 
on the imagination. And yet we cannot but understand 
that he, too, plays more than one role in celestial history, 
and assumes different forms in this intricate yet beautiful 
phantasmagoria of thought and moral sentiment of that 
shadowy past. It is in vain we ask ourselves however men 
in the infancy of this world of humanity, in the rudeness 
of supposed incipient civilization, could have dreamed of 
such a heavenly being as Thoth. The lines are so delicately 

Gods and their Meaning. toi 

drawn, so intimately and tastefully interwoven, that we 
seem to regard a picture designed by the genius of a 
Milton, and executed with the skill of a Raphael. Verily, 
there was some truth in that old saying, " The wisdom of 
the Egyptians." 

Thoth is one of the oldest inhabitants of the green plain 
beside the waters of the celestial Nile. We have records 
of him on the oldest of monuments. He is the lunar god 
of the fifth dynasty, and before it. The cynocephalus, or 
dog-headed ape, is associated with him ; becalise, says a 
Greek, that animal is so easily affected by the changes of 
the moon. Modern naturalists fail to discover this lunatic 
propensity of apes. He is the " Lord of Sensen," or Her- 
mopolis. He is the " Dog Taut or Thoth," as Esculapius 
was known as the Man-dog. He is, in fact, the Camillas of 
the ancient Etrurians, the Janus, the Hermes, the Mercury. 
He has the head of the bird ibis, has a cow's tail hanging 
to his girdle, and carries the canon, or long cylindrical 
writing-palette in his hand. He has the crown atef, and 
the lunar disk. The Eye of Horus, or onia symbol, may 
be seen borne by him. His legs are often enveloped and 

As the Hermes, god of learning, father of progress, 
teacher of the sciences, institutor of architecture and agri- 
culture, inventor of the lyre, civilizer of Egypt, he may be 
the embodiment of the idea of intelligence. His acts are 
the recognition of the principle that man, without divine 
guidance, could not, and did not, rise from brutishness to 

As the Thrice great Hermes, Hermes Trismagistus, he is 
the principle of the supernatural. Sorcerers, astrologers, 
diviners, magicians of every degree, look up to him as their 
patron. Through him they know the past, and can predict 
the future. Through him they penetrate space, command 

I02 Egyptian Belief and Modei-n Thong Jit. 

the elementary spirits, and hold direct and familiar inter- 
course with spirits of the supposed dead. He is thus 
assimilated to the Hermes of the Etruscans, who had no 
wings to his feet, as the Mercury had afterwards, but wings 
to his head. He was their god of mining ; that is, he was 
the chief of the subterranean or underworld divinities. 
He had even then the serpent rod, that became the 
caduceus. Hermes was the serpent itself in a mystical 
sense. He glides, like that creature, noiselessly, without 
apparent exertion, along the course of ages. He renews, 
like that, his own existence. He is, like that, a represen- 
tative of the spangled heavens. But he is the foe of the 
bad serpent, for the ibis devoured the snakes of Egypt. 

Plato says that Hermes, or Thoth, discovered numbers, 
geometry, astronomy, and letters. He is certainly the 
registrar of the decisions of the Great Judge, Osiris, at 
the Last Judgment. His ape, symbol of equilibrium, sits 
on the top of the Balance in which the souls are weighed. 
And yet he is the subject of prayer, as if his mediatorial 
powers were needful. On the altar of Pepi, B.C. 3500, we 
have a prayer to Thoth, and a reference to sepulchral food 
of bread, beer, geese, etc. Another prays that Thoth would 

be pleased to be with N , the deceased, "that he might 

go in and out freely." It is touchingly recorded of him, " He 
who is the good Saviour." Proclus, the Greco-Egyptian 
writer, forms a high conception of his offices, saying : " He 
presides over every species of condition, leading us to an 
intelligible essence from this mortal abode, governing the 
different herds of souls." 

As Thoth-aah, or Thoth the moon, he may be seen as a 
naked child, whose bowed legs mark the new moon. He 
carries in his hand the Eye of Horus, which is the full 
moon. When it is shown that the wife of Cephren, builder 
of the Second Pyramid, was a priestess of Thoth, one sees 

Gods and their Meaning. 103 

that the ideas comprehended In him were fixed six thous- 
and years ago. He and Anubis, the dog-headed god of the 
underworld, are fellow, so called, lunar deities, and were 
apparently, more popular, or better understood, at that 
very distant period, than even Osiris himself. It would 
seem as though the Thoth idea preceded the ordinary 
Osiridian one. 

But the most curious part of the story is his association 
with the dog. Only a glance at the subject can be given 
here, as the subject is more detailed under the head of 
*' Sirius." 

In the Coptic language, the descendant of the Egyptian, 
the letter T is pronounced than; therefore, double T is 
tkau-thatt, the Toic-too, the Ta-ooit, the thundering or bark- 
ing dog of various religions. As the dog Taut, he is 
Anubis, the dogheaded god, the divine barker. In a sugges- 
tive series of questions. La Nauze asks, "What is this name 
of Thot } Is it not the name of Mercury, of Anubis, of 
the Barker, of the Dog so celebrated in the antiquities of 
Egypt } Is it not the denomination of the Canicula .'*" 

The relation to the cross is thus alluded to by Jambli- 
chus : " The cross with a handle which Tot holds in his 
hand was none other than the monogram of his name." 

Khem, Khnum, Noum, Chnouphis, the ram-headed 
god, wearing the sacred collar, may be simply a form of 
Ammon the Generator, as he commonly holds his member 
in his hand. This indicates his role as the creator. His 
right arm is over his head^ as if he were a sower in the act 
of throwing the seed, to germinate into future life. His 
creative power is illustrated by his working at a potter's 
wheel, as seen on a Philse monument. Isaiah alludes to 
God as a potter moulding the clay of mankind. At Philae 
we read, "He who made that which is, the creator of 

1 04 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

beings, the first existing, he who made to exist all that 

This would identify him with that great mystery of 
the ancients, — the Logos, the Dcmiurgus, the worker. 
The fig leaf, ever associated with generation, is thus de- 
voted to him. He is connected with the creative sun as 
Noum-ra. As creator, he must be self-existent, and he is 
styled the " husband of his mother." On some illustra- 
tions, he is seen navigating the primordial liquid. Cory 
places him with Siva, the Indian phallic god. Certainly 
the Egyptians were more Saivas than Vaishnavas. He is 
properly " the divine breath." Some call him the incarna- 
tion of Ammon-Ra. 

With two tall feathers and the whip, Bunsen saw his 
likeness to Horus. Pierret considers him an ithyphallic 
form of Horus. But Gliddon says, " Osiris, among his 
many attributes, is mysteriously a form of Khem, who cor- 
responds, also, to the Indian Siva, and from whom the 
Greeks derived their Pluto." He is, unmistakably, the 
god of mysteries. His name is said to signify zvater, the 
original source of being. Mariette Bey remarks upon the 
inscription, "He who fabricates,'^ that Khem may be the 
genetrix matter of the gods. Others think he simply re- 
presents the humid or passive principle. His resemblance 
to the phallic Pan is striking. 

As to his antiquity, his name is seen upon the cartouches 
of Cheops himself, both at the Great Pyramid and at the 
copper mines of Mount Sinai. As Nouf, he may be the 
Ammon of the desert, the horned one of the wilderness. 
His wife, or female half, goes by several names. She is 
Athor, Maut, or Sate. The last wears a white crown, and 
is '' daughter of the sun," and '' mistress of Elephantine." 
The Greeks were accustomed to call her Juno or Hera, 
mother of gods. She is, also, Vesta. Associated with the 

Gods and their Meaning. 105 

sunbeam, she bears an arrow, to mean a ray of conception. 
As Neith stretches over the constellations in the upper 
heavens. Sate extends over the lower portions. 

The Ritual says : " I am Khem, whose plumes have been 
placed on his head." An early tablet describes him thus : 
"Thou givest breath to those who invoke thee in thy 
mysterious dwelling. Thou openest the ways of heaven 
and earth." He is the type of the rudimentary state of all 
things, though he has one hand on the phallus beneath the 
closely bound bandelettes. He is, in truth, the principle 
not only of first creation, but of that new birth after the 
grave, the hope and expectation of all good Egyptians. 

From a papyrus M. Chabas got the following prayer : 
*' O Sepui, cause of being, who has formed his own body, 
O only Lord, proceeding from Noum ! O divine substance, 
erected from itself ! O God, who hast made the substance 
which is in him ! O God, who has made his own father, 
and impregnated his own mother!" 

Kneph, Cneph, or Nef is singularly allied to Khem, 
having much the same qualities. Some regard Cnouphis, 
Nu, or Noum, as more properly Kneph than Khem. But 
both these are exponents of creative force, or the Spirit of 
God moving upon the face of the waters. Porphyry terms^ 
Kneph, '' creator of the universe." Eusebius, full of the 
old Egyptian and Greek Philosophy, saw the Rabbinical 
and Platonic Logos in many of the so-called gods, and 
speaks of Kneph as " Divine intellect, which was the 
Demiurgus of the world, giving life to all things." Plutarch 
calls him the " unmade and eternal deity." Jamblichus 
philosophizes thus upon him : " This god is intellect itself, 
intellectually perceiving itself, and consecrating intellec- 
tions to itself ; and is to be worshipped in silence." Dr. 
Shuckford declares him " without beginning or end." 

1 06 Egyptian Belief and Alodern Thought. 

He is Eichton or ether, the blue element, and was always 
painted blue. With the asp between the two horns of his 
ram's head, he is often represented with an eg^, the mark 
of creation, proceeding from his mouth. Though Cory- 
fancies him as Vishnu, he is more like the Indian Narayan, 
the blue one floating on the water. His ram's head be- 
speaks his solar connection, his generative energy. In fact 
the Egyptian quasi-priest, Asclepius, affirms that he is the 
sun. Others find him in the third Sephiroth of the Rab- 
binical Trinity, — the Holy Spirit. This led Sir Gardner 
Wilkinson to deliver this impressive opinion : " The Egyp- 
tians in process of time forsook the purer ideas of a single 
deity, and admitted his attributes into a participation 
of that homage which was due to the Divinity Himself 
Kneph, or more properly speaking Neph, or Nef, was re- 
tained as the idea of the Spirit of God." 

One form of him was Av, meaning flesh. He was crio- 
cephalus, with a solar disk on his head, and standing on the 
serpent Mehen. In his left hand was a viper, and a cross 
was in his right. He was actively engaged in the under- 
world upon a mission of creation. Deveria writes : "His 
journey to the lower hemisphere appears to symbolize the 
evolutions of substances, which are born to die and to be 
reborn." Thousands of years before Kardec, Swedenborg, 
and Darwin appeared, the old Egyptians entertained their 
several philosophies. 

Ra, the sun, was ever a popular deity in every land. 
God has been called the sun, after His brightest work. The 
Hebrew Prophet could speak of the " Sun of Righteous- 
ness ;" and another sacred teacher exclaimed, ''The Lord 
God is a Sun." He is the hawk-headed, and carries the 
cross and the staff. 

An inscription notifies that Ra was " enfanted by Neith, 

Gods and their Meaning. 107 

but not engendered." Elsewhere he is called " self begot- 
ten ;" though a stele says he was created by Ptah, and 
hence known as "the child of Ptah." A papyrus informs us 
that he came from the side of his mother, and was not pro- 
duced as other deities. He was incarnated in the bull 
Mnevis, as Osiris was in Apis. He was Phre, Helios, and 
Adonai. In the western Delta he was Mando-ra, the red 
sun. Potipher or Poti-phre, was priest of Ra or Phre. Ra 
created goodness from a glance of his eye, as Set did evil 
from his. Mu, ligJit, was his son. His name occurs on the 
oldest monuments. 

As Amoun-ra, he was " Lord of the two worlds, who 
is enthroned on the sun's disk, who moves his ^^^^ who 
appears in the abyss of heaven." An ancient hymn runs 
thus : — 

" Hail to thee, Amen-Ra, Lord of the thrones of the 
earth, chief in Ap-tu (Thebes), Lord of truth, father of the 
gods, maker of man, creator of the beasts. Lord of exis- 
tences, Enlightener of the earth, sailing in heaven in 
tranquillity," etc. " All hearts are softened at beholding 
thee, Sovereign of life, health and strength ! We worship 
thy spirit who alone has made us. We join to thee praise 
on account of thy mercy to us." 

Those who make the wise Egyptians, in their adoration 
of Ra, simply worshippers of the material sun, cannot be 
envied for their materialism. Others may seek and find 
the " Lord of Truth " in something else, of whose glory the 
sun is but a reflected image. Men with so high a percep- 
tion of moral excellence, and so exalted an idea of deity, 
can scarcely be credited with so mean a view of Ra as 
the ruler of day, that can be concealed by a cloud. 

This subject is extended in the chapter on Sun Worship. 

Pthah or Ptah, though the son of Kneph, is the prin- 

io8 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

ciple through whom creation takes place. He is an Egyp- 
tian Logos or Demiurgus, through whom and by whom 
the worlds are made. Birch calls him *' oldest of local 
deities." While Cncph is blue, Ptah is always green. Hero- 
dotus says that a temple to him was erected by Menes, the 
first king, thus indicating the high antiquity of his worship. 
Under the twelfth dynasty, we have mention of Ptah So- 
charis, more immediately the fire god. He continued to 
be popular down to the close of the Egyptian monarchy, 
as one of the Ptolemies calls himself " beloved of Ptah " 
on the Rosetta stone. He is " giver of life," and the 
"good god." In his images the mummy form is preserved. 
Dr. Birch calls attention to the number of documents citing 
Ptah during the sixth dynasty. There is one of his tem- 
ples of so ancient a period of erection that its floor is now 
far below the level of the country, and is buried in mud. 

There are clearly two Ptahs, which may be two phases of 
the same being. One, the upright Pthah of Upper Egypt, 
has swathed legs, and a shaven head or close fitting cap, 
his hands bound, and with a cross and staff. He is the 
" creator of the eggs of the sun and moon." He was called 
Hephaistus or Vulcan by the Greeks. The other form, 
called the Embryonic Ptah, of Memphis, is a phallic god. 
He is a naked, deformed dwarf, with twisted legs and 
swollen abdomen ; usually standing, priapus in hand, upon 
two crocodiles, having a scarabeus on his head. Cooper 
calls this ''a deformed hydrocephalus dwarf" As such 
he is Ptah-Sokaris-Osiris. He is, therefore, so to speak, 
the latent germ, to be developed in perfect beauty and 
fitness. He is an inert Osiris. Sometimes Ptah is a frog, 
or rnan in embryo. Pritchard implies that he is herm- 
aphrodite. Apis, the sacred bull, is said to be his son, 
conceived by a ray from the sun. Imhotep, the scholar 
and architect, is his son. 

Gods and their Meaning. 109 

His self-born condition is manifested by the image in 
which he is seen opening his own body with his hands. 
Pasht, one of his wife-forms, is often observed with ex- 
panded wings behind him, as if in the brooding condition. 
The Tat, emblem of stability, may now and then be found 
on his head ; or he is all Tat, with a scarabeus on top 
holding up a globe or sun. He is the Lord of the cubit, 
and bears the Nilometer. Another wife-form, Neith, beside 
him, represents the conceptive element belonging to him 
as the Demiurgus. DoUinger regards Neith and Ptah as 
one person, being androgynised. As Ptah-Sokaris-Osiris, 
he is Osiris purified, and an infernal deity. 

Jamblichus asserts that he " makes all things in a perfect 
manner," and calls him the Artizan. Herodotus is of 
opinion that the Cabiri were sons of Ptah. Dr. Smith's 
" History of the East " refers to him as " a second Demi- 
urgus, an emanation from the first creative principle." 
Pritchard declares that " this framer of the world, the sole 
parent of all things, was, forsooth, of a double sex." In 
the Targum of Jerusalem, one reads, " Egyptians called the 
wisdom of the First Intellect Ptah." Mariette Bey sees an 
allusion to him in the eighth of Proverbs, under the appel- 
lation of wisdom, saying, " Ptah is, then, Divine wisdom, 
scattering the stars in immensity." Pierret writes : " Phtah 
represents God in his role of the Being who had preceded 
all others ; he created the stars, and the ^g^ of the sun 
and moon. He appears to prepare matter ; but there his 
action is stopped." 

In the Ritual for the Dead there is this prayer: " Homage 
to Ptah, Lord of justice, divine soul, living in truth, creator 
of gods and men, immortal Lord, who illumines the worlds." 
Another prayer is as follows : — 

*'Thou openest thy soul. Thou watchest in repose, 
father of fathers, and of all gods. The solar disk of heaven 

1 1 o Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

is his eye, illuminating the two worlds with his rays. — 
Generator of all men, he produces their substance. — Thou 
art without father, being engendered by thy will. Thou 
art without mother, being born by the renewal of thine 
own substance from whom proceeds substance." 

Athor or Hathor is wife to several gods ; that is, she 
is the female principle of nature, or one of its develop- 
ments. The dark garments in which she was at first 
attired intimates the originality of her being, her residence 
in the dark past of Chaos before light came. The disk on 
her head allies her to the solar, as the cow's horns to the 
lunar, deities. 

The antiquity of Athor needs little argument. We trace 
her through all the dynasties up to that earliest really 
known to us, — the fourth or pyramid line of kings. Her 
image is the head of the sistrum in the hand of a sovereign 
of that period. A monument informs us that Cheops 
repaired a temple to Athor ; and, therefore, of pre-existence 
long enough to require, even in that preservative climate, 
some attention to its dilapidation. Her name is applied 
to a lady whose mastaba was opened in the very old 
necropolis of Saqqarah. On the false door was read the 
name of Hathor-nefer-hotep. There is no doubt of the 
age of her picture. " The green band," says Mariette Bey, 
"beneath the eyes of the figure is another epoch mark, 
which, connected with all those we have enumerated above, 
serves clearly to indicate the style of monuments which we 
make to ascend up to the predecessors of the founder of 
the Great Pyramid." 

But the glory of her worship was under the nineteenth 
dynasty, when Egypt was, perhaps, at the summit of 
renown. She was worshipped as the spotted cow, with 
gilded neck and head. She was Hera, the cow of Troy ; 

Gods and their Meaning. 1 1 1 

and so allied to Isls. As the cow over the western moun- 
tains, she is the ruler over both heaven and earth. Both 
being the cow, *'it is difficult," says Dr. Birch, " at an early 
period to separate Athor from Isis." Wilkinson remarks 
that ''Athor frequently assumes the character of Isis." 
The Aurora of the Vedas is a cow. 

The Venus of Egypt, she is named " goddess of the 
lovely face." But the face is broad enough for a Tartar, 
though there is a delicacy and softness essentially feminine. 
She has nothing of the voluptuousness of Astarte, or of 
the Venus of Asia and Europe. She may represent the 
Sacti of India, without the profligacy. She may have been 
the Sacta or tabernacle of Babylon, since all things were 
tabernacled in her as a divine mother. She was the 
golden-haired Ariadne of Bacchus, the Etrurian Turan, 
and the Sicca Venerea or Succoth Benoth of Assyria 
(2 Kings xvii. 30). Socca signified a tabernacle. As such, 
she is the ''abode of Horus." She is Andromeda, who 
has her sistrum emblem. She is the companion of Har- 
machus Tum, the infernal god. A.'s> the goddess of love, 
she is, according to Mariette, " the personification of the 
general harmony of the world." 

Her priestesses were in high honour. There is a lime- 
stone image of one of her priestesses, removed from a tomb 
near the Great Pyramid, and of the same epoch. They had 
not the questionable reputation of the ladies attending 
the Paphian goddess, since she was the representative of 
chaste delights ; or, as Mariette Bey observes, " intended 
to personify not only the goddess of all that is beautiful, 
but also the goddess of all that is true." The dove was her 
symbol. The dove is still associated with the Mother of 
God idea. Her coiffure was a naos enclosing Horus. 

The " Regent of the western regions," receiving the 
setting sun, and covered with a black veil, she becomes an 

1 1 2 Egyptian Belief and Modern ThougJit. 

infernal deity, caring for souls during their probation in 
another life, although she has sunbeam-strings to her lute. 
She, therefore, receives the mummied dead in Amenti, the 
land of the west. Rouge calls her the " nocturnal heavens, 
receiving the dead in the west as a speckled cow." She is 
Mersker, or lover of silence, and the dead are often called 
after her name. 

The Ritual exalts her office below, as " the celestial 
mother in whose bosom (as a cow) the souls of the dead 
are new-born." Hence she is "the gracious goddess of 
child-birth," as well as " President of the west country." 
She is the mistress of the seven mystical cows. She is said 
to " animate, under the form of a cow, the mountain of the 
west, to which the sun retires." As the cow-horned she is 
Isis, and is a mother of Horus. But she is the '' Divine 
Mother " in other ways. As M. Mariette says, " She is the 
Divine Mother who causes all vegetation to germinate, who 
makes the corn to grow, who gives life to mortals, who 
carries fecundity and abundance into all parts of the world, 
love being productive only in such measure as it is har- 
monious." Again, he says, " She is represented as the 
personification of the general harmony of the world which 
exists and endures only by the harmonious concourse of 
all its 'parts. Creuzer writes thus : " She is the mother 
and matter of the world ; she is really and intellectually 
the primitive and hidden foundation, the mysterious source 
of all things." A tablet calls her a " gracious mother in the 
abode of accouchements ; " and she is protectress of queens 
at the hour of maternity. 

On a Turin papyrus is read that Tan-ka-ra, or King 
Tancheres, of the fifth dynasty, consecrated a temple to 
Hathor. But Khufu, says one, appears, by a Denderah 
inscription, to have built her a temple on the site of the 
old Tentyris. She was the " goddess of Snem," and the 

Gods ajid their Meaning. 113 

" daughter of the sun." Her wheel of eight spokes stands 
beside two standards. She is the " daughter of the sea " ; 
the " great ruler of the sealed abode of the disk " ; *' the 
pure soul " ; the " mistress of the southern sycamore." As 
Sirius, she is '' the star which fixes and governs the periodic 
return of the year." Her best temple was at Denderah. 

The walls of Edfou temple yield a pretty story about 
her. The king is paying his respects to her. She is grate- 
ful, and says, '* Mayst thou be loved by women ! " He 
bows with these words : "■ I bring thee bouquets of flowers 
of all kinds, that thou mayst adorn thy head with their 
colours." To this she graciously replies, that under his rule 
the land shall have the richest verdure. 

She was particularly adored in Upper Egypt, though 
known as Khoum in the Delta, or as Chiun, the Rephaim 
of Amos V. 26. She carried the viper on her forehead, 
and a lock of hair at the side. The fishes, Sydodontis, 
Latus, and Siluris were her emblems. She had a temple 
at Athor-bechis. She is seen to assume the role of Neith. 
Jablonski calls her primeval night. Portal, the writer on 
symbolism, considers her " the passive principle, the sym- 
bol of chaos and night, which had developed nature before 
the creation." 

Among hymns and prayers to her are these : " I offer to 
thee Truth. I raise her toward thee, O Hathor, sovereign 
lady of all the heavens." Her answer is : " May Truth be 
with thee ; mayst thou live by her ! " Another said : " I 
have walked in the ways of Athor. Her fear was in me. 
My heart bid me do her pleasure. I am found acceptable 
to her." — '' When I was a child, not knowing how to declare 
the truth, my heart bid me adopt the sistrum (emblem of 
Hathor). God was pleased with it." A worshipper ex- 
claims! " Lead your wives to her in truth, to walk in the 
way of the queen of the gods ; it is more blessed than 


114. I^gyptia7i Belief anei Modern ThoiigJU. 

any other way." No decent Greek or Roman would have 
led his wife to Venus ; but Greeks and Romans had not 
the refined and moral ideas of ancient Egyptians. 

Neith, Nout, Nut, Nou, Nepte, Nuk, is a philo- 
sophical conception worthy of the nineteenth century after 
the Christian era, rather than the thirty-ninth before it, or 
earlier than that. Mariette Bey is satisfied of its extreme 
antiquity. He found this vulture-headed goddess in a rude 
style along with monuments of the oldest period of Aby- 
dos. This, said he, *' would authorize our belief that it is 
more ancient than the royal family of which we are speak- 
ing ; it would mount up to even the first of the two first 
dynasties." That means, he would assume it to be nearer 
seven thousand than six thousand years old. 

There is, however, a considerable difficulty in isolating 
any specific character. Not that Neith has no special part 
to play in the Egyptian Pantheon ; but that she so often 
melts, so to speak, into another goddess, particularly Isis, 
that cautious Egyptologists would not venture to lay down 
definite lines concerning her. But this objection will 
always hold good with any symbolic religion. Yet, per- 
haps, the Greek and Hindoo mythologists, perplexing as 
they are to the scholar, cannot be compared to the Egyptian 
in point of delicacy of distinction, refinement of philosophy, 
and subtlety of sentiment. 

The general reader cannot be too often reminded that 
the old-fashioned notion of gods and goddesses must be 
given up before an impartial judgment can be formed of 
any heathen faith. It cannot be too plainly shown that 
the religious ideas which prevailed so long ago are those 
maintained now. The mode of expressing these ideas 
creates the difference. To the vulgar, it seems absurd 
enough to bow before a vulture-headed female image. 

Gods and their Meaning. 115 

That the crowd entertained strange and materiaHstic 
notions about her can well be supposed ; but the intelligent 
man, who turns to the Christianity of some parts of Europe, 
and some people in England, might see almost equal gross- 
ness still existing, reflecting small credit upon modern 
civilization. The sad thought is that, however pure the 
original conception, ignorance and superstition will soon 
defile it, and often render it both vicious and absurd. 

Neith or Nout is neither more nor less than the Great 
Mother, and yet the Immaculate Virgin, or female god, 
from whose bosom all things has proceeded. 

On monuments she is generally represented as an elon- 
gated female figure, extended with drooping arms as a 
sort of arch, beneath which are portrayed not only the sun 
and stars of heaven, but gods and men. One of the finest 
illustrations may be seen in London, at the Soane Museum, 
Lincoln's Inn. She is more than once shown upon the 
magnificent alabaster sarcophagus there. She is yet living 
among us, in the continuation of her solemn Sais festival, 
then, as now, accompanied by great lights ; for the learned 
Mr. Sharpe tells us that, " the Feast of Candlemas — in 
honour of the goddess Neith — is yet marked in our al- 
manacs as Candlemas day, or the Purification of the Virgin 
Mary." And M. Beauregard speaks of "the Immaculate 
Conception of the Virgin, who can henceforth, as well as the 
Egyptian Minerva, the mysterious Neith, boast of having 
come from herself, and of having given birth to God." The 
Council of Ephesus, 431, declared Mary, Mother of God. 
Her Assumption was declared in 813, and her Immaculate 
Conception by the Pope and Council in 1855. 

Beneath Neith's figure the colour is blue, or celestial ; 
but her body is yellow. She has a collar of nine beads, 
bracelets, armlets, etc. On her hand is the teshr of Lower 
Egypt. Sometimes she bears bow and arrows to illustrate 

1 1 6 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thoug/iL 

the darting rays of light from the primeval darkness, and 
she may have a red crown. At times, she is simply a sort 
of rainbow. Often she appears with outstretched vulture 
wings, in the condition of brooding maternity ; as the vul- 
ture was the symbol of maternity. She may occasionally 
show the cow-head, in her role as Hathor, or Isis, all being 
the same. Now and then there are two or more Neiths, 
bending inside of each other, but the stars shine below the 
innermost figure. A vase on her head merely symbolizes 
her name. She is clothed from the neck to the feet in a 
closely fitting garment. A scarabeus may be noticed on 
her breast, or a winged sun opposite her mouth. In one 
picture she thus overshadows eighteen boats full of gods. 

She is not only the celestial vault, atmosphere, or ether ; 
but is made to appear in a tree, from which she gives the 
fruit of the Tree of Life, or pours upon her worshippers 
some of the divine water of life. Hence she gained the 
favourite appellation of " Lady of the Sycamore." It is 
singular that some apply the same epithet to another per- 
sonage reverenced in our own day. 

Champollion described her as " a woman whose body is 
elongated to embrace greater space between the arms and 
legs, and expresses the idea of heaven." As a mother, she 
is seen embracing the ram-headed god, who typifies mas- 
culine force vitalizing inert matter. She is, in this sense, 
the Abyss of ancient philosophy, the ehaos of Genesis and 
the East. She may correspond to the Indian Prakriti, or 
original matter. In the form of Seben, she is Lucina at 
the birth ; and, green in colour, the symbol of re-birth, and 
belonging to the invisible world. Her emblems are a flat 
dish and a weaver's shuttle. Some needless confusion arises 
between Neith and Nout in the minds of some writers. 

She is, according to M. Mariette, ** anterior to all." De- 
veria utters this testimony : " The only god, without form 

Gods and their Meaning. 1 1 



and sex, who gave birth to himself, and without fecunda- 
tion, is adored under the form of a Virgin Mother." Eurip- 
ides, with the same idea, bursts forth into this song : " Thee 
I invoke, thou self-created being, who gave birth to nature ; 
and whom light and darkness, and the whole train of 
globes and planets, encircle with eternal music." Nebuchad- 
nezzar left this marvellous sentence in cuneiform language : 
" I built a temple to the great goddess, my mother." Hera- 
clitus wrote : '' Inhaling through the breath the Universal 
Ether, which is Divine Reason, we become conscious." 

She is the Hindoo Akass ; which is, says Maurice: "a 
kind of celestial element, pure, impalpable, unresisting, 
in which the planets move." She is the Zervana of the 
Avesta, '' time without limits." She is the Nerfe of the 
Etruscans, half a woman and half a fish ; of whom it is 
said, "From holy good Nerf the navigation is happy." 
She is the BytJws of the Gnostics, the Om of Neoplatonists, 
the All oi German metaphysicians, the Anaita of Assyria. 
She is Onka and Thena. 

Though the mother of Helios, yet she is still the 
immaculate virgin. As Rouge observes, " though mother, 
her tunic has never been raised." An ancient stele de- 
scribes her as " Nu-t, the luminous, who has engendered 
the gods." As mother, she is Naus, or the ship. On a 
tablet she thus speaks : " I came from myself." The Rev. 
A. H. Sayce recognizes her principle in the Babylonian 
Balm or Gidic ; that is, " merely the chaos of Genesis, the 
primeval wasteness or chaos of night, and the underworld, 
which appears in Sanchoniathon as Baet\ and perhaps, 
also. Mot, the primitive substance that was the mother of 
all the gods." Mariette Bey sees a sort of female sun in 
her. Rouge reads in Oiiati, goddess of the North, the 
winter solstice ; and in Souvan, of the South, with a vulture 
head, the summer solstice. 

1 1 8 Egyptian Belief and Modern ThoiLght. 

But this " great daughter of the night " is also " goddess 
of the invisible world," like the Phoenician Baau. As 
representative of Space or Ether, she would infuse no more 
devotion in her worshippers than the blue ether gives 
warmth. She must be identified with man to be of interest 
in the eyes of man. It is her connection with the other 
life that makes her so useful. True it is, that gods and 
mundane existences came from her. But her life-giving 
qualities are not exhausted. What she has done, she may 
do again. Once she bestowed the breath of life on mortals ; 
when, then, these close their eyes in death, is there no hope 
of help from Neith t 

As the Lady of the Sycamore she becomes the object of 
their prayers. Supplications to her may be read still on 
Egyptian walls, that she would be pleased to grant that 
fruit for the healing of the nations, that water to renew 
the course of being. Pictures represent souls, as human- 
headed birds, fed by her from the tree. Kneeling men, still 
living, and birds, souls of the departed, are exhibited re- 
ceiving the elixir of life from her. She is the bestower of 
immortality upon the deceased. She is properly esteemed 
" Regent of the region of the abode of posterity." 

In an address to the dead, are these beautiful lines : 
" Thy mother Nout has received thee in peace. She places 
her two arms beneath thy head each day. She protects 
thee in thy tomb. She is thy safeguard in the funeral 
mountain. She well protects thy flesh. She gives thee 
every protection for life." 

Still, it is her intimate personification of Minerva that 
finds such great interest with scholars. 

Minerva is Wisdom ; and Pauw discovers Neith in the 
eighth of Proverbs. Tertullian tells us that, even in his 
Christian days, the schoolmaster " devotes the very first 
payment from a new scholar to the honour and name of 

Gods and their Meaniitg, ixq 

Minerva." The '^guiding, holy one of the sea," adored by 
the Phoenicians, and produced, Hke Minerva, from the head 
of the god Tinia, has been identified with Neith, although 
the Athene. Cudworth asks, "Might not this very Egyp- 
tian word Neith, by an easy inversion, have been at first 
turned into Thien, or Then, and then by additional alphas 
at the beginning and end, transformed into Athene ? " But 
Neith was known as Thena. 

Clement of Alexandria records that the Egyptians had 
in the open air a sanctuary of Minerva. The veil of Neith, 
never raised from her virgin form, gives occasion to a 
remark from Dr. Cudworth. " The statue of the Egyptian 
Neith," says he, ''in the temple of Sais had, agreeably to 
its inscription, such a peplum or veil cast over it as Minerva 
or Athenias at Athens had." It showed, as he thought, 
"that the Deity was invisible and incomprehensible to 
mortals, but had veiled itself in this visible, corporeal 
world, which is, as it were, the peplum, the exterior 
variegated or embroidered vestment of the deity." 
Proclus may, then, well say, "Sais and Athens had the 
same tutelar gods." Schliemann found many illustrations 
of Athene in the supposed ruins of ancient Troy, and saw 
the rude figures had extended arms, after the fashion of 

While some spiritualize the goddess, and drink in 
heavenly inspiration from her tree of life, others, taking 
the materialistic side of the religious argument, detect only 
the consummate wisdom of the Egyptian in recognising 
eternity of matter, the necessary self existence of matter, 
and yet the evolution of all forms from that primitive ether 
sky, or Neith. As she filled the whole of space, and her 
motion gave birth to suns, stars and men, one is forcibly 
reminded of that philosophic statement from Sir William 
Thompson, once President of the British Association. 

120 Egyptian Belief a7id Modern TJwiight. 

He said, what the Egyptian priests recognized, perhaps, 
B.C. 5000, that — 

" Matter is but the rotating portions of something which 
fills the whole of space." 

Anubis, Anepou, the dogheaded god, and son of the cow, 
is one of the most remarkable of the Nile deities. He is, 
pre-eminently, the Pluto of Egypt. He receives the dead, 
he conducts them to Osiris the judge, he is the friend of 
the departed. He is called " preparer of the way of the 
other world." 

Among the early conceptions of a Hereafter must have 
been that of a monarch of the mysterious world to which 
all mankind retire. As the only possible idea of the other 
life was that, in some way or other, it could be only like 
unto this, with cares and joys, foes and friends, it was of 
the utmost importance that the supposed chief of that 
region be duly conciliated. But as the Egyptians, happy 
people ! were not accustomed to watch their rulers, as 
Frenchmen do, lest they do mischief, they looked upon 
Anubis, their Pluto, as a well-meaning sovereign, doing the 
right thing, but still requiring homage and prayer. 

To Anubis the dying were commended, and the dead 
Avere entrusted. He figures on the coffin, in the mastaba, 
and on all tablets and monuments describing the journey 
of the soul beyond the grave. Earnest entreaties were 
made that he would take charge of the deceased, conduct 
him through his perilous adventures in underworld, and 
permit him to " go in and out according to his pleasure." 
As Lord of the land of the West, whither the souls fly 
when they leave the body, he is the proper officer in charge 
of all funeral solemnities. He is known as the cinbalincr. 

Long before any images of gods were made in Egypt, 
Anubis was hailed as the guardian of the dead. As 

Gods and their Meaninor. 121 


Apheru, he is recognized on a monument of the remote 
third dynasty. Mariette Bey finds him in the tombs of 
Gizeh, as he says, " one or two generations after Cheops ; 
that is to say, about six thousand years ago." The hd of 
that ancient coffin bears the usual invocation to Anubis. 
Under the fourth dynasty we have him asked to give the 
deceased *^ a good burial in the land of the West." In the 
fifth dynasty he is often addressed as " Guardian of the 
Tomb." His name rests upon the tomb of the grandson 
of King Snefrou, of the third dynasty. His connection 
with Osiris and Isis will be elsewhere pointed out. His 
carrying the infant Horus, recalls the story of the giant 
Christopher bearing the infant Jesus over the Jordan; both 
Anubis and Christopher are provided with a staff. He 
claims both Isis and Nephthys for his mother. 

Often identified with Mercury, it must be because the 
latter is the Psychopompos, or usher of souls. In that 
sense, too, he may be a sort of messenger of the gods. 
But he cannot be credited with the lying, thieving, and 
treachery of the Greek Mercury. On a Gizeh tomb we 
read : " An expiatory offering has been made to the god 
Anubis, Lord of the world Toser, residing at the infernal 

Called the "giver of Sirius," that starry opener of the 
year, Anubis is thus the leader of time. The dogheaded 
god must be connected with Sirius, the dogstar. As the 
dog, he is messenger of the gods. Carrying the Nilometer 
in his hand, he is mysteriously associated with the celestial 
Nile, and the fate of those dependent upon that heavenly 
stream. As the rising of the Nile is dependent upon the 
North wind, Anubis is called Meraticar to denote a low 
Nile, and Daedalus, for the high and good river. His 
control of the two great divisions of Amenti or Hades, the 
good and the bad places, is illustrated thus by Apuleius : 

12 2 Egyptian Belief and Modern ThougJit. 

" The interpreter of the gods of heaven and of Hades, 
sometimes with a black face, and at other with a golden 

As Hermanubis, or Hermes-Anubis he is described on a 
nineteenth dynasty monument as '' revelator of the mys- 
teries of the lower world." Creuzer defines his appella- 
tion of Anubis-Thoth-Hermes, calling it *'a symbol of 
science and of the intellectual world." The Etruscan 
Anubis, known as Charun, the deity of funeral processions, 
has a long nose, with the ears of a dog or wolf, and carries 
a hammer in hand. Thor's hammer is simply a cross ; and 
Anubis is never without a cross. The Charon of Greeks, 
who carries the dead over the Styx, and for the payment 
of which office a coin is deposited in the hand or mouth 
of the corpse, is allied to the Charun of Etruria. He is, in 
fact, nothing but the Egyptian Anubis, who has charge 
of the dead, and sees to their safe passage to the Elysian 
Fields. It is the same as Nebo of Assyria', at the morning 
and evening gate of souls. 

Several explanations have been given of the dogheaded 
figure presented by him. Anubis is certainly the Barker. 
The Greeks knew him as dogheaded ; but Wilkinson 
objects to the animal, and calls it a jackal. Others fancy 
the head is that of a greyhound. The Abyssinian Tenek 
is said to be of the same type, having a squarish ear, and 
a long brush tail. The Australian dingo, or wild dog, is 
uncommonly like the creature in dispute. That has a long 
fox-like nose, erect ears, a fawn-coloured skin, and an 
extended brush tail. Further remarks on this subject are 
continued under the head of " Sirius," and " Animal 

Ammon, Amoun, or Amen, is the ram-headed god of 
Thebes, and is, in a sense, the chief deity of Egypt, 

Gods and their Meaning. 123 

— supreme divinity. Whatever else he be, he must be 
accepted as the sun, in a secondary way. As Amoun-Ra, 
the hidden god, the solar aspect is clear : " The divine star 
of Amoun-Ra, the king of the gods of Thebes." He is 
styled "Protector of millions." Dr. Birch calls him "the 
oldest of Egyptian conceptions of an abstract deity." Mr. 
Robert Brown, Jun., makes him correspond with Zeus, 
though not absolutely identical. " He has been no more a 
fictitious being deified to the particular use of worshippers 
in Egypt," says OUivier Beauregard, "than Jehovah has 
been to the particular use of the Jews." 

His face and hands are painted blue to mark his celestial 
character. According to a monument at Napata, in 
Nubia, he " dwells in the holy mountain," and is " Lord of 
all." He carries the double diadem, and two long feathers, 
A red crown is sometimes seen, and his sceptre has a bird's 
head. Between his ram's horns there is the disk of the sun. 
The viper cerastes is sacred to him. 

The Egyptians, unable otherwise to account for their 
gods, or the commencement of life, declare they are self- 
begotten. Amoun is said to " engender himself without 
father.'-' A stele of Anapa, in Ethiopia, declares " I am the 
father of my son, the son of the sun Amen." The Ritual 
of the Dead reads : " Amoun creates his own members, and 
they become his associate gods." It is affirmed of Amoun- 
Ra, that he is the husband of his mother ; or, as Mariette 
puts it, "his own father, and his own son." His name 
Hor-Ammon means the self-engendered. Such was the 
ancient notion of Divine conception. 

F. Lenormant observes : " The Egyptian religion, in its 
most august sanctuary, and at the points of departure of 
divine emanations, shows us a god married to his mother ; 
this wanton Jupiter, and the ram of nature with which he is 
associated, is equally found at Thebes ; but, by the muti- 

1 24 Egyptian Belief and Modern ThoiLght. 

latlon of the ram, the account, as Clement of Alexandria 
has remarked, takes an Asiatic and a Phrygian phy- 
siognomy whose equivalent has not yet been found in 

Bryant, author of " Ancient Mythology," is persuaded 
that he is none other than Noah. Ainoun-no, and No-ainn 
" were," said he '' certainly named from Noah." But, then, 
his whole theory is the Arkite one; and he must needs get 
all the gods of earth in with Noah into the ark, a task 
easy mystically to perform. No is the Scripture name 
for Thebes, see Ezek. xxx., and Jer. xlvi. 25, etc; therefore, 
Amoun of Thebes is Amoun-No, says Cudworth. 

Amen means the concealed. Plutarch informs his readers 
that "Manetho Sebennites conceives the word Amen to 
signify that which is hidden ; and Hecatseus affirms'that 
the Egyptians use this word when they call any one to them 
that was distant or absent from them ; whereupon, the 
First God, because he is invisible and hidden, they, as it 
were inviting him to approach near and to make himself 
manifest and conspicuous to them, call him Anient One 
writes, " Ammon, the hidden god, will remain for ever 
hidden till anthropomorphically revealed ; gods who are 
only afar off are useless." Amen is styled " Lord of the 
new-moon festival." 

Amoun, as the national deity, had hard work to maintain 
his authority. On more than one occasion, a rival dynasty 
at Thebes has turned against the god of Thebes, and 
ordered the name or symbol to be obliterated or hammered 
out from monuments. The eighteenth dynasty made itself 
particularly obnoxious to the ram-god. Mariette Bey 
found a stele of the thirteenth dynasty, having praises of 
Amoun ; but usurpers had caused the chiselling out of 
part of the hymn. This, says the curator of the Boulaq 
Museum, "was then engraved anew after the fall of the 

Gods and their Meaning. 125 

usurper of the eighteenth dynasty." During the succeeding 
line of kings, Amoun was specially honoured. Mr. 
Bonomi, the hieroglyphical artist, has a remark about the 
removal of a name. " Did the Amenophs," said he " by 
the insertion of a name founded on that of their tutelar 
divinity Amoun, mean to supersede the worship of the 
divinity from whom the obliterated royal name was 
derived V 

It is a curious circumstance, for which no explanation 
has appeared, that repeatedly the hieroglyphics for the 
word Amoun face the wrong way. But, then, that god is a 
peculiar mystery. He is the " Lord of eternity," and, yet, 
the Universe. He is Pan in the esoteric sense. His oracle 
at Thebes was ever the most oracular in the world. Still, 
he was so intensely Egyptian, that invaders and conquerors 
have almost uniformly opposed his worship ; Khou-em- 
Aten of the eighteenth dynasty, for instance, as well as 
the dreaded Asiatic Hycsos, opposed it. As Amoun, he 
was held to be invisible to his adorers ; but, as Amoun-Ra, 
he might be made manifest. 

His identification with Baal, the god of the Semites, 
establishes him as a solar deity, apart from the word Ra, 
the sun. By the ancient writers Amoun was placed as 
Baal. Some even contend that to both human sacrifices 
were offered, though but very rarely in Egypt. Solomon, 
from his Egyptian sympathies, favoured these sun divinities, 
and introduced them into his temple. But Amoun-ra was 
certainly less ancient than Amoun. In Lev. xviii. 21, 
there is a reference to Baal-Hammon, the Lord of Heaven. 
The Phoenicians were pre-eminently devoted to this wor- 
ship. A remarkable Punic inscription has been lately 
found, which reads thus : " Decreed for the guidance of 
the priest a rule relating to matters appertaining to death 
and uncovenanted offerings to Baal. The immolation of 

126 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought, 

men is ordered by precepts, and there exists likewise a 
rule respecting animal victims. To the priest is to be 
presented the man to be immolated to Baal Hammon." 

The author of " Sabaean Researches " naturally identifies 
Amoun with the starry host of heaven. This ram-god is 
one of the constellations. "Ammon," says Landseer, *' that 
is to say, the zodiacal ram, being especially honoured in 
those Sabsean countries which did not dissemble the re- 
moval of the vernal colure, during the twenty-one centuries 
of his astronomical ascendency ; and, of course, the heliacal 
rising of the chief stars of this constellation was hailed in 
these countries with festive rejoicings." The authoress of 
" Mazzaroth " has much to say about the Ram, but she 
gives it a symbolical meaning to suit her specific theo- 
logical theory. 

The worship of Ammon, the ram-headed, has been 
considered by some writers as nothing but grateful ac- 
knowledgment of the sun's services to this earth, and the 
recognition of the Ram cluster of stars with which his 
rising was at a remote period associated. 

This refers to the apparent course of the sun through 
a broad belt of stars, called the zodiac. Divided into 
twelve constellations, the sun rises in a different one each 
month. Besides this annual motion of the heavens, which 
is really the turning of the earth round the sun, there is 
a much less sensible one, which takes about twenty-five 
thousand years to make one revolution. The sun, there- 
fore, rises each morning, for over two thousand years, in 
a line between the earth and one of these distant con- 
stellations. The Ram, being one of these, was, by the 
precession of the equinoxes, the sun constellation at a 
remote period ; and so, it is said, it was made into a god, 
Amoun, and worshipped. Martianus Capella long ago 
declared that the Ram was the sun. 

Gods and tkeir Meaning, 127 

They who hold this idea of the astronomical origin of 
idolatry would see the same reason for Bull worship, as 
the sun was in the Bull for 2000 years. But as the respect 
paid to those constellations was in consequence of their 
relation to the sun, the religion was nothing else but a 
phase oi sun worship. Some writers give men no credit 
for any other conception of God than that contained in 
reverent gratitude to the sun, that warms their bodies, 
ripens their corn, and awakens animal life. 

There is another development of this deity, which brings 
forward more specifically his part as the creator or pro- 
ducer, but which may not unreasonably be regarded as 
solar action. In this he is known as Ainotm-generatory the 
ithyphallic god. The prominence given to one portion of 
his person on his statues, or in his pictures, is the out- 
Vv^ard manifestation of this attribute. 

One of the most ancient tombs of Thebes contained the 
body of a prophet of Ammon, with the cones, as significant 
of the phallic character so long ago in Egypt, as the 
conical stone of Siva in India now. The trefoil, another 
phallic emblem, is connected with Amoun. The learned 
Jamblichus has the following remarks upon this subject : 
"The demiurgical intellect and president of truth, as it 
proceeds with wisdom to generation, and produces unto 
light the secret and invisible powers of the Hidden 
Reasons, is, according to the Egyptian language, called 

Though the local god of Thebes, he was, perhaps, as 
good a type of the first god, the universal deity, as Egypt 
afforded. After all, the best means of knowing him and 
his attributes must be from the old papyri and monuments. 
One of the most famous of the treasures of Boulaq Mu- 
seum, near Cairo, is a papyrus, which has been translated 
by C. W. Goodwin, M.A. It is dated from the nineteenth 

128 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thottght. 

dynasty, but bears the statement of being only a copy of 
the hymn composed, perhaps, a thousand years or more 
before that date. This sacred song is, therefore, one of 
the most ancient extant. 

The hymn contains twenty verses. Extracts from Mr. 
Goodwin's translations are here presented : — 

" Praise to Amen-Ra, the bull in An (Heliopolis), chief 
of the gods, the good god beloved, giving life to all ani- 
mated beings, to all fair cattle. Hail to thee, Amen-Ra, 
Lord of the thrones of the world, chief in Aptu (Thebes), 
strong son of his mother in his field ; turning his feet 
toward the land of the south ; lord of the heathen, prince 
of Punt (Arabia) ; the ancient of heaven, the eldest of 
the earth ; lord of all existences, the support of things, 
the support of all things. The One in his works. — Good 
being, begotten by Ptah. — King Ra, true speaker, chief 
of the world — in whose goodness the gods rejoice. — Lord 
of eternity, maker everlasting ; gracious ruler, crowned 
with the white crown, lord of beams, maker of light- 
consuming his enemies with fire ; whose eye subdues the 
wicked. — Hail to thee, Ra, lord of truth — listening to the 
poor who is in distress, gentle of heart when one cries unto 
him : deliverer of the timid man from the violent, judging 
the poor — lord of mercy most loving ; at whose coming 
men live — to whom the sixth and seventh days are sacred ; 
sovereign of life, health, and strength — whose name is 
hidden from his creatures ; in his name which is Amen 
(hidden). Hail to thee, who art in tranquility. Thy 
love subdues (all) hands — (all) hearts are softened at be- 
holding thee. The ONE maker of existences. — The One 
alone with many hands — Amen, sustainer of all things — 
We whom thou hast made (thank thee) that thou hast 
given us birth ; we give thee praises on account of thy 
mercy to us. — Beloved of Aptu (Thebes) ; high crowned 

Gods and their Meaning. 129 

in the house of the obelisk (Heliopolis). The One alone 
without peer — living in truth for ever," etc. 

If this language, breathing sentiments which do honour 
to heart as well as intellect, means nothing more than 
vulgar, materialistic sun worship, then must the devo- 
tional phraseology of the Holy Scriptures be equally 
susceptible of the same interpretation, and piety of all 
lands, all times, and all faiths be reduced to the dull 
uniformity of stupid homage to a supposed ball of fire in 
the heavens, or a mass of incandescent vapour. To say 
the least of it, the upholders of the theory are not to be 
praised for their exalted idea of human intelligence, and 
are not to be envied for their coarse and repulsive realism, 
nor for the view they must, in consistency, maintain of the 
spirituality of human affection. 

Set, Sutex, Sutekh or Sutech, the ass-headed, was as 
much the deity of the foreign element in Egypt, as Amoun 
was the national god of the native Egyptians. Set, ac- 
cording to Lenormant, is " the primeval name of god in 
Asia.'' His image, even, does not bear the ordinary 
physiognomy of the people. 

In physique^ he has a fat body, a large and wide head, 
very large eyes, full eyebrows, small mouth, very wide 
chin, short and curly hair, thick neck, long and hanging 
tongue, projecting abdomen, short, thick legs, and a promi- 
nent phallus. 

He was the god of the very ancient Khetas, the Avaris 
(often confounded with the Israelites), and the Hycsos 
conquerors of Egypt during the fifteenth, sixteenth and 
seventeenth dynasties. He was the Kep of Syria, and the 
Gryphon of Chaldea. As Noubt, he was lord of the 
south. Iron, sacred to him, was an object of Egyptian 
abhorrence. With peculiarly pointed ears, like a Fawn, he 


130 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

was the object of worship among hostile Semitic tribes, 
and, what is singular, among the woolly-haired negroes, five 
thousand years since. Dr. Lepsius remarks : " Set be- 
comes the god of foreigners, when they take a hostile 
appearance ; the divinity they adored was the object of 

We are beginning more and more to understand that 
human nature was about the same under the first dynasties 
of Egypt as we find it in our midst. Hence, there were 
religious squabbles in all eras, and men celebrated their 
triumphs over all nations as victories over the gods of the 
land. Yet we are a good deal puzzled to account for some 
of the phases of popularity in Set of Egypt. Denounced 
by the eighteenth dynasty, he was restored by Seti of the 
nineteenth. But it is curious that the great conqueror, 
Ramses II., whose manly figure adorns so many European 
museums, and who lived in the time of Moses, should have 
chosen his wife from among the hated Avaris, so devoted 
to Set. Unpopular under the twentieth dynasty. Set was 
worshipped by the twenty-first. The military dynasty, 
twenty-second in order, again deposed the god ; but he 
was re-instated by the kings of the twenty-third dynasty 
at Tanis. During the twenty-fifth dynasty his name was 
once more erased from the sacred monuments. But, 
as late as the thirtieth dynasty, near the age of the 
Persian invasion, Set was for the last time seated upon 
the throne by a Ramses king, who has been supposed, 
from that circumstance, to have been of Delta-Semitic 
origin, a descendant of the Hycsos. The " destruction by 
the Egyptians," says Cooper, " of all those parts of the 
monuments where these names occur," darkens our con- 
ception of this deity. 

There is no doubt about human sacrifices being offered 
to Set. The oryx, red cow, hippopotamus, crocodile, and 

Gods and their Meaning. 131 

red ass, were devoted to him. His distinctive colour was 
yellow. He was the Melech or Moloch of the Canaanite 
race, into whose heated brazen arms mothers placed their 
children, to conciliate the favour of so cruel a god. Abra- 
ham lived amidst a people recognizing the piety of sur- 
rendering the eldest son to heaven. Francis Lenormant 
declares that Set is none other than Baal. 

The Sallier papyrus contains the following passage : 
" The king, Ra-Apepi, as chose himself the god Sutech 
as lord, and there was no servant of any other god existing 
in the entire country." This intolerance, this avowed per- 
secution of the ordinary Egyptian kings, is attested, also, 
by Manetho. He declares, too, that Cheops himself once 
shut up the temples ; but Cheops was the avowed author 
of a pious book, and monuments exhibit his pious gifts of 
gold images, etc., to certain temples. 

Mariette Bey has little faith in this asserted bigotry. 
He cannot but see the marks of chiselling out of the names 
of Ammon, etc. ; but he declines to accept the stories of 
the intolerance of the Hycsos, or Shepherd Kings, who 
favoured Set. 

He finds proof that Salatis, the first reputed sovereign 
of that race, did not excide the names of the previous 
Egyptian kings, all of which, like those seen inscribed 
within the Great Pyramid itself, had reference to the idols 
of the country. He finds that emblems, as the cross, etc., 
in use among the orthodox Egyptians, were employed by 
the Hycsos. Though they often placed their own names 
upon monuments of kings of the thirteenth dynasty, they 
preserved the original names ; and, in so doing, paid a tacit 
homage to the old divinities. " The temple of Sutekh," 
Mariette says, " built by Apophis (Hycsos king), was 
ornamented and enriched with the images of those Pharaohs, 
whose memory even the Shepherd Kings are accused of 

132 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonokt. 

having annihilated." It is not surprising, therefore, that he 
should exclaim, " We are thus led to think that the Shep- 
herds have been severely judged." 

The god of a warrior people, Set was the Mars of the 
period. Viscount Rouge says : " He was the warrior god 
par excellence) and the mythical animal which represented 
him (the dog), was from a very ancient epoch the symbol 
of valour." M. Pleyte, quoting from the papyri of Harris 
and Sallier, finds him styled " Sutech, the great warrior," 
The fighting kings of the Hycsos were called after him. 
Pleyte, remarking upon the triumphs of Mariette Bey's 
explorations at San, the ancient capital of the Hycsos, 
writes : " We have thus discovered the temple built by 
Apophis, before which these statues were placed. Upon 
the sphinx at Bagdad we read the name of the king of the 
Hycsos, Ra-set-nub, which proves that the names of kings, 
as Sutechti, were imprinted with the name of Sutech, the 
supreme god." 

Ramses 11. restored the Hycsos temple and god Sutex 
at San, which is Avaris, the ancient Delta capital of these 
foreign invaders. On a stele of that city may be read, 
" Sutex, or Pehti, son of the Sun, in the year 400." San 
was beside the Tanitic arm of the Nile. Baron Bunsen 
asserts the relation of people and deity, saying, " He is the 
Ass-god of the Semitic tribes, who rested on the seventh 
day ; he has the complexion of the hated race." Certainly, 
when represented as a beast, he has the long nose of the 

But the great puzzle of this god is to find him at one 
time the exponent of goodness, and afterwards the mark of 

In the sacred writings, he is, according to chapter 42 of 
the Ritual, associated with the most honoured of gods ; 
for we read there, "Set, formerly called Thoth." He 

Gods and their Meaning. 133 

was even confounded with the holy Horus himself." On 
a statue it is stated, he was the " good god, star of the 
two worlds." In another place he is "the good god, who 
watches always." Pleyte, reading on a tablet, where Set 
is called the god Ra, says, " It is remarkable that Set is 
here represented as Ra, supreme god, and killer of the 
dragon himself, he who always threatens the most honoured 
gods." He was at Thebes the enemy of Apophis, the evil 

It is, then, astonishing to find from other records that Set 
is the personification of evil. In chapters 7 and 39 of the 
Ritual, he is known as Apap, the devourer. In chapter 17, 
Osiris is entreated thus : " Save the deceased from the god 
(Set) who carries off souls, who devours hearts." Mako, 
the dreaded crocodile of Hades, is a son of Set. In the 
Harris papyrus one reads : " Stay thee, crocodile, son of 
Set, I am Anhur." His daughters are the evil spirits, tor- 
menting souls. In charms to ward off evil, we have con- 
tinual prayers against Set. In one papyrus he is mentioned 
as " Soutekh, reptile, wicked one, who comes to carry off 
the light." 

Pleyte, after rehearsing his early praises, adds : " Set lost 
this honour, and was despised as he had been before adored." 

As the god of the hated Shepherd race, his unpopularity 
with the Egyptians is natural. But why was he popular 
before t How came the " Lord of heaven," the " good 
god," the companion of Horus, to be so fallen as to be 
pictured in the likeness of an ass, with his ears being 
pulled by Horus, who is in the act of atiministering a 
kicking .? He is, indeed, thrust down to hell ; for we see 
him, under the name of Smou, employed by the infernal 
gods to cut off the heads of the wicked in Amenti. 

One reason may be this : Set, like several gods, has two 
forms. But, on the other hand, it is clear that the good 

1 34 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thoiight. 

one wholly disappears, and the bad character comes to 
take his place. It is certain that he was a recognized 
divinity under the ancient Empire. There was a temple 
to him at Tanis before the irruption of the Hycsos. But as 
we have evidence of the Avaris settling in Egypt during 
the twelfth dynasty, that edifice may be taken as erected 
by them. Still, there is an altar known to be of the sixth 
dynasty, which is dedicated to him. Where were the 
foreigners then } More than all, Cephren, of the fourth 
dynasty, is said upon his tablet to call himself after Set ! 
Set, then, was of the pyramid age. 

May not the explanation be that there the early civilized 
settlers were Asiatics } As such, would they not have 
brought their old Cushite gods with them from Arabia, or 
some now sunken land of southern Asia } It being highly 
probable that the Hycsos were of the old faith, and that 
they had not, as the Egyptians, enlarged their Pantheon, 
Set, once favoured, would get blackened from the remem- 
brance of his intrusive believers. He might not have fallen 
so very low all at once ; still, a bad feeling once began, 
would rapidly grow in intensity. It must not be forgotten 
that the Egyptian foes were chiefly from that eastern 
quarter, the high seat of Set worship. 

The Greeks, who bungled so egregiously in their account 
of other religions, understanding nothing of their own, 
managed altogether to confound Set with Typhon, the foe 
of Osiris. But Set has been not inappropriately thought 
to be Chronos, or Saturn. He was somewhat mysteriously 
allied with the bull Apis. One evidence of his remote 
antiquity is the account that he was originally worshipped 
as an tcpright stone, according to the rites of old Druidism. 

Typhon, the evil principle, was, according to Plutarch 
and other Greeks, no other than Set. But he evidently 

Gods and theh' Meaning, 135 

plays another and more distinguished part, and forms a 
leading feature in the Osiridic myth. That he is intimately 
associated with Osiris, the chief divinity of Egypt, is clear 
from the fact that his temple, always very small, like a 
chapel, and called the Typhonium, is placed near or beside 
the imposing edifice erected for Osiris. 

Pleyte has no doubt about Set being the El or Elohim 
of the East, and the same as Baal. Finding that curious 
passage in the book of Numbers about the destruction of 
the sons of Seth, he says, " It is probable that the Septua- 
gint meant by the * Sons of Seth,' the people who rendered 
homage to the god Seth (Set), the same divinity who was 
adored in Egypt by the Palestino-Asiatic tribes." 

Distinct or not, it is not a little curious to see the two 
sometimes placed together in the Egyptian scriptures. 
These books, like the sacred writings in other lands, are 
clearly of different dates ; though our present sources of 
information give us little light as to their respective authors, 
and the various epochs of production. Yet, in a papyrus, 
there may be found this singular invocation : " I invoke thee, 
O TypJwn-Set ! I invoke thee, terrible, invisible, all-power- 
ful, god of gods, thou who destroyest and renderest desert." 
The 15th chapter of the Ritual classes him among the 
" violaters of the sun." 

One decided similiarity in their history is that both had 
at a former period a better character. Typhon had been a 
good fellow, and a companion with the gods. But that is 
no more than was the case with our forefathers' devil, 
Loki, who stood with the gods familiarly enough. Even in 
Job, Satan is made to occupy a similar position of honour, 
and is ranged with the '* sons of God " before the throne, 
conversing at ease with the Deity. Bunsen agrees with 
some other Egyptologists as to the original Typhon ; re- 
marking, " Down to the time of Ramses, B.C. 1300, Typhon 

136 Egyptian Belief and Modem Thonght. 

was one of the most venerated and powerful gods, a god 
who pours blessings and life on the rulers of Egypt." But 
if this were so, it would prove the mysterious myth of 
Osiris, and his death by the hand of Typhon, as quite a 
modern invention ; whereas, there is decided testimony to 
the contrary. 

That he was an object of terror is seen again and again 
in the Ritual. There this prayer is often appearing : 
" Deliver me from Typhon — protect me from him." He 
who injured the good Osiris must be dangerous to men, 
especially for those in ghostland. Creuzer, the great au- 
thority on ancient religions, writes, " All evil comes from 
Typhon." It is, in sacred writings, " he who triumphs by 
violence." The magical charms found on mummies' 
remains are full of appeals for help against him. 

That he is good and evil may be a truth, if he be an 
exponent of Providence. It is but natural that the fearful 
should exercise the greatest influence on society, and the 
dread of evil be more powerful than the expectancy of 
good. We find the same in more than one theology in our 
own day. A philosophic remark in the Hindoo Vedas may 
afford some explanation of the seeming difficulty. It is 
there said, " All that seems evil includes the germ of that 
which is good." 

Some may think that the dualism of good and evil 
beings, so fully developed in the Zoroastrianism of Persia, 
entered Egypt at a comparatively modern epoch, and de- 
pressed Typhon, while exalting Osiris, till they came into 
antagonism as Ahriman and Oromasdes. That this idea 
was a very ancient and very natural one is apparent from 
the traditions of, perhaps, all nations. That the religion of 
Egypt underwent some great changes during the course of 
five thousand years must be believed. No faith can help 
being influenced by [the civilization of the particular age. 

Gods mid their Meanmz. 


Our only marvel is, that so small a variation is perceived 
in that extended period. Whether as Set, Bes, or Typhon, 
this mischievous deity had a long supremacy. 

According to a modern philosophy, finding explanations 
of religious myths, Typhon is simply some physical evil. 
He is the storm God. He is the burning blast of the sandy 
desert. He is red, or yellow, as the sand. The sand is 
cursed, like Typhon. Before a temple or even house could 
be raised upon it, numbers of the images of the good gods 
must be strewn over it, beneath the foundation. Wilkin- 
son says he is " to destroy and render desert." He is as 
the sand, the eternal foe to the beneficent Nile. 

The goat, over whose head the Egyptian confessed his 
sin, was devoted to Typhon, and turned off into the desert. 
The fiery breath that was so great a trouble to the Nile 
farmer might well be Apophis, Typhon, or any other devil. 
A tale is told of Juno, who, being angry with her husband 
Jupiter for forming Minerva without her aid, made a sort of 
Typhon of the miasmatic vapour of the earth. If moderns 
would look upon every bad smell, foul water, or corrupt 
air as a Typhon, they might be more eager to get away 
from these. 

He was a monster indeed. He was the hippopotamus 
that slew his father, and violated his mother. He was " the 
tyrannical and overbearing power," the resistless force of 
nature. In Arabia, says Maurice, his name means the 
Deluge. As his wife, his female side, was goddess of the 
sea, and as the Egyptians saw the endless war between 
the ocean and their Nile, he was their "havock of waters." 
Being lord of the sea, the Egyptians declined to eat of his 
fish. Python, the Greek Typhon, was formed from the 
unwholesome slime left after the deluge of Deucalion. 

Typhon, or his like, commenced his career in a rough 
manner. Begotten by Rhea, mother of the gods, by her 

138 Egyptmn Belief and Modern Thought. 

lover Chronos, and not by her husband HeUos, the sun, he 
tore his way from the side of his mother by violence. His 
murderous propensities are utilized in hell ; for Egyptian 
pictures show him torturing souls, cutting off spiritual 
heads, or toasting ethereal bodies in fire. He is, with 
pitchfork complete, the model for the popular conception 
of the devil. 

His colour was abhorrent. Unclean animals were de- 
voted to him, and were considered red. Even in Isa. i. 18, 
and Num. xix. we have the association of red and sin. 
Men must have shuddered at the red sky, especially when, 
like Typhon himself, it touched both east and west at the 
same time. No priest would eat salt ; for was it not the 
very saliva of Typhon } 

The red ass was his favourite symbol. Creuzer gives 
rather a peculiar reason for this. '' The animal consecrated 
to Typhon is the ass," says he, " companion of shepherds, 
in opposition to the bull, the symbol of agriculture ; it is 
mounted on an ass that Typhon pursues Horus, or Apollo, 
hidden by Latone (Isis) in the island of Buto ; and that is 
why they sacrificed an ass, in the form of expiation, to the 
god of light, Apollo, the enemy of all obscurity as of all 

Typhon was once said to be attended by seventy-two 
bad spirits in his attack on Osiris. These were the usual 
seventy-two days of dry wind from the parching desert at 
one season of the year. Jomard likens the legend to a 
Greek one : " The fable of Anteus and Hercules has its 
origin in the struggle of the sands of Libya against the 
waters of the Nile, and in the triumph of the canals upon 
the march of the sand dunes." Still, after all, he is the 
one who, in the Ritual, " steals reason from the soul." 

The old Babylonians had him in " Bel and the Dragon," 
for he was ever the old Serpent of the Sky. From Mr. 

Gods and their Meaning. 139 

George Smith's reading of the cuneiform cylinders and 
tablets, we get the real story of the Euphrates. 

Be], or Baal, was a respectable and male deity of light 
and strength. Tiamat was anything but respectable, and 
was, most ungallantly, regarded as a female. She was no 
Venus, this dreadful and winged she-dragon. Bel had a 
sword of sharpness provided for the conflict, though he 
preferred employing another weapon against the lady 
rival. The eventful struggle is narrated in the arrow- 
headed characters, and is thus translated : — 

" Tiamat opened her mouth to swallow him. The evil 
wind he caused to enter before she could close her lips. 
The force of the wind her stomach filled and — her heart 
troubled and her face was disturbed. . . . violently 
seized her stomach. . . . her inside it broke, and her 
work he ended." 

The Etruscan copy was not beautiful. The pictures in 
the tombs of Etruria are lively expressions of this principle 
of destruction. Singularly enough, the modern Italians 
call the figure Tifoiie^ or Typhon. Mr. Dennis gives us a 
sketch of the monster in these words : " The attitude of 
the body, the outspread wings, the dark coils of the serpent 
limbs, the wild twisting of the serpent locks, the counte- 
nance uplifted with an expression of unutterable woe," etc. 
Typhon is truly termed by Cory, " the indicator of power 
and destruction." A Typhonic deity appears as early as 
the thirteenth dynasty, in the person of Sebek, god of dark- 
ness, with the crocodile for his emblem. He is the declared 
enemy of Horus or Osiris. Mariette Bey esteems him as 
Night, since he is found in the same temple with Ra, 
the Sun, or Day. 

The female Typhon is TaoER, Ta-iir, Ta-ap-oer, the 
Thotieris of Greek authors. This wife of Typhon is usually 
represented as a hippopotamus sitting on two hind legs, with 

1 40 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

long pendant breasts in front, and a knife in hand. Her 
back is covered with the skin and tail of a crocodile. Her 
feet and claws are those of a lioness. She holds, too, the 
sacred knot before her. She fed on the wicked in hell. 
The symbol of ScJiepoii or Ap was the knot. The hippo- 
potamus was abhorred in Egypt. Its name, Teby is 
applied to Typhon, known sometimes as Tebh. 

It is not a little singular that, as Ap, this Ap-or or 
Ta-oeVy the "great one," comes before us on a monument 
of the early sixth dynasty, as the "Nurse of the gods." 
This tallies with the idea that Typhon, male or female, 
was reputable enough in the remoter age of Egypt. 

ISIS, the Juno of Egypt, is the most important of all 
female personifications of Divinity. 

There is no difficulty in 'recognizing the cow-headed 
Isis, nursing her child Horus. Mariette Bey tells us she 
appeared in this guise at least six thousand years ago. 
She embodies therefore, one or more of the primitive ideas 
of mankind. In all probability, she was worshipped three 
thousand years before Moses wrote. The investigation of 
that which prompted men to set up such a deity, in the 
supposed infancy of the world, may well excite the earnest 
attention of thoughtful minds. 

It is altogether beside the mark to groan over human 
depravity that set up such an image so long ago. Somehow 
or other, pictures and images continue to have kneeling 
devotees before them in the churches of three-fourths of 
Christendom, and there is a growing inclination to honour 
them in part of the so-called Protestant fourth. It is no 
more likely that the intelligent Egyptian regarded the 
image of Isis apart from a symbolism of something, than 
that the late Pope himself worshipped his favourite bronze 
image of St. Peter, — or Jupiter, — at the Basilica, Rome. 

Gods and their Meaning, 141 

We may be surprised that, as Europe has Black Madon- 
nas, Egypt had black images and pictures of Isis. At the 
same time, it is a little odd that the Virgin Mary copies 
most honoured should not only be black, but have a very 
decided Isis-cast of features. The Black Isis is supposed 
to symbolize not only the Mother of the gods, but the 
primeval darkness, preceding light, that gave birth to all 

The word ha is said to be woman, or the female 
principle, the Sacti of India, the Rhea, the Cybele, the 
Hecate, the Demeter, etc. She is the Ishtar of Nineveh, the 
Astarte of Babylon, the Friga of Saxons, the Isa or Disa 
of Teutons, the Mylitta of Sidon, the Maia of Greece, the 
Semele of Boeotia, the Idoea of Crete, the Davcina of 
Chaldea, etc. In short, she is the Universal Mother, the 
Bona Dea. 

She is styled '* Our Lady," the " Queen of Heaven," 
" Star of the Sea," " Governess," " Earth Mother," " Rose," 
"Tower," " Mother of God," "Saviour of Souls," "Inter- 
cessor," '^Sanctifier," " Immaculate Virgin," etc. 

To account for gods, men, and animal and vegetable life, 
it was essential to create the idea of a divine mother, the 
tabernacle or resting-place of all existences. Diodorus 
puts the question in that shape: "The father, according 
to the common belief, being the author of the birth of the 
child, to whom the mother only gives nourishment and a 
home." She is, then, with her full breasts, the passive 
principle of creation. 

Unlike the Juno of the Greeks, she is not a vindictive 
and jealous goddess. She has no scenes with her husband. 
She indulges in no infidelities, as do the classical ladies 
of Olympus. In the story of her love and devotion to 
Osiris, there is a pathos and a tenderness that speaks well 
for the domestic virtues of the Egyptian people who in- 

142 Egyptian Belief and Modern Tlwnght. 

vented and cherished the myth. Only those who believed 
in faithful wives and honoured women could have exhibited 
so noble a specimen of female goodness as seen in their 
chief divinity. Even the one weakness she evinced in her 
career has a touch of womanhood about it which commands 
our regard, while calling for blame. When Typhon, the 
murderer of her husband, was at last captured, he was 
secretly released by Isis. If the most cruel of her foes, 
was he not her own brother 1 

A loving wife, and a gentle sister, she was a tender 
mother. The look of maternal affection she casts upon the 
babe Horus at her breast attests the feeling. Sometimes, 
like Diana of the Ephesians, she is Midtimammea, or many 
breasted, to denote that her motherly provision for the 
world was without bounds. She is the universal Providence. 
Her ample development is still witnessed in that modern 
type of Isis, our own revered Britannia, who bears still 
more than one mark, besides the Sals shield, of her Isiac 

Dr. Barlow, treating of symbolism, sees some one else 
in Isis. " The doctrine of the Mother of God," he observes, 
" was of Egyptian origin. It was brought in along with 
the worship of the Madonna by Cyril (Brshop of Alexan- 
dria^ and the Cyril of Hypatid) and the monks of Alexan- 
dria in the fifth century. The earliest representations of 
the Madonna have quite a Greco-Egyptian character, and 
there can be little doubt that Isis nursing Horus was the 
origin of them all. The pictures of the Madonna and child, 
commonly called Byzantine, I have long thought would 
be more correctly called Alexandrine. At Alexandria 
there was an established school for their production from 
an early period." 

They who maintain the opinion, that Egyptian belief 
was but a series of types foreshadowing the coming of 

Gods and their Meaning. 143 

the Messiah, will have no difficulty in retaining the worship 
of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, believing the Mother of 
God idea was typified long before. 

In an ancient Christian work, called the " Chronicle of 
Alexandria," occurs the following : " Watch how Egypt 
has consecrated the childbirth of a virgin, and the birth of 
her son, who was exposed in a crib to the adoration of the 
people ; King Ptolemy having asked the reason of this 
usage, the Egyptians answered him that it was a mystery 
taught to their fathers." The author of Divinites Egypt- 
iennes says : '* The legend of the Virgin, by its minute 
details, and by the ambitious aspirations of which it 
provokes the demonstration in Catholic worship, seems 
to leave nothing to be desired on the part of the Virgin 
Mary to the thousand-named Isis of the Egyptians." 

We read the name of Isis on monuments of the fourth 
dynasty, and she lost none of her popularity to the close 
of the Empire. Winking Madonnas had their type in the 
winking and nodding Isis ; while certain images of the 
Egyptian goddess were celebrated for their miraculous 
movements, or their discharge of tears. 

She even appeared to her worshippers on rare but 
special occasions. The Coptic Christians of Egypt very 
naturally carried on this miraculous work of " Our Lady." 
When under the Mahometan rule, however, they had to 
exercise some caution. Once, a certain picture of the Virgin 
was seen to drop milk at a festival, when the church was 
crowded with worshippers, and there arose a great excite- 
ment about the miracle. But the Mahometans, who bowed 
to no image or picture, regarded this display as a public 
scandal, and that particular picture was removed. After 
some years, the patriarch of the church obtained its re- 
storation ; though, upon an understanding that no more 
milk miracles were to be performed. ' 

144 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

The enthusiasm for Isis was from a natural Impulse. 
Osiris, good as he was, could not be an object of affection ; 
as men feared him who was to be their future judge. But 
Isis was the mother, gentle as well as good, and, therefore, 
much nearer the human heart. Besides, was she not all- 
prevailing with Osiris and her son Horus .'' Did she not 
weep with the mourner, having once lost her own beloved t 
Had not the dead himself a friend in the gloomy passage of 
the hells, when she led him by the hand ? How effectual 
her appeals for him when weighed in the balance before 
Osiris, or when exposed to the terrible lance of Horus ! 

Every maiden told her love to Isis. Every mother 
found sympathy in Isis. Every young man gave his 
secrets to his heavenly mother, Isis. Every man bowed 
before that type of conjugal fidelity, and of matronly 
purity. The very qualities which endear the Virgin Mary 
to the Roman and Greek Catholics, and constitute the 
essence of her popularity, were those which bound the 
hearts of Egyptians to their beloved Isis. Theodore 
Parker struck the chord of human sympathies when he 
addressed the Deity as ** Mother!" With Protestants, 
generally, the Christ-idea, in all its tenderness, is assumed 
to supply this natural craving for the feminine element of 
the Godhead. 

The word Isis, Hebrew Isha, Greek H'isha or Hesi, is the 
name of her throne. She also, according to Plato, '* feeds 
and receives all things." She bore the throne of dominion, 
the hieroglyphic of her name, on her head. She was Myri- 
onymuSy having ten thousand names. It was said in the 
Eddaof the goddess Freyja, who wept tears of gold in her 
grief : " She has a great variety of names, from, having 
gone over many countries in search of her husband, each 
people giving her a different name." Here is what Isis 
said of herself, according to Apuleius : — 

Gods and their Meaning. 145 

" I am Nature, the mother of all things, the mistress of 
the elements, the beginning of the ages, the sovereign of 
the gods, the queen of the dead, the first of the heavenly 
natures, the uniform face of the gods and goddesses. It 
is I who govern the luminous firmament of heaven, the 
salutary breezes of the seas, the horrid silence of Hades, 
with a nod. My divinity, also, which is multiform, is 
honoured with difi"erent ceremonies, and under different 
names. The Phrygians call me the Pessinuntian mother 
of the gods ; the Athenians, the Cecropian Minerva ; the 
Cyprians, the Paphian Venus ; the Cretans, the Diana 
Dietyuna ; the three-tongued Sicilians, the Stygian Proser- 
pine ; the Eleusinians, the old goddess Ceres ; some Juno, 
some Bellona ; others, Hecate, and others again, Rham- 
nusia. The Oriental Ethiopians, the Arii, and those 
where the ancient doctrine prevails, the Egyptians, Siman, 
honour me with ceremonies peculiar to me, and call me by 
my true name, Isis." 

An ancient inscription, found near Capua, declares that 
she is one and all things : — 



The Romans followed the Greeks in their admiration of 

In some respects, she is Neith ; as to both is this in- 
scription applied : " I am all that has been, and is, and 
shall be, and my peplum no mortal has uncovered." An- 
other addresses her : " To thee, beino- one, art all thino-s." 
But Apuleius is right in saying, " Though Isis and Osiris 
be really one and the same divine power, yet are their 
rites and ceremonies very different." Cudworth remarks : 


146 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

" Isis is plainly supposed to be an universal Numen and 
supreme monarch of the world. Neither may this hinder 
that she was called a goddess, as Neith also was ; these 
pagans making their deities to be indifferently of either sex, 
male or female." 

One of the great mysteries of Isis was her assumed 
relation to the dog. Some reference to the subject may 
be seen in another part of this work, on " Sirius." One 
of her most celebrated sayings was, " I am in the constel- 
lation of the dog." 

We are informed by Clement of Alexandria that two 
golden dogs were carried in the procession of that goddess. 
There is still a star Isis in the dog constellation. There is 
a cat-headed Isis, which bears a relation to the dog ; in the 
same way as the Chinese Kiien-miao means the mezving- 
dog. But Montfaucon gives illustrations of a dog-headed 
Isis. She is K-iris, Kisis ; and isese is the sun. Upon 
this the French author of that singular work, " Sirius," 
remarks : " The name of Isis, the lunar goddess in Egypt, 
being identical with esis, isese, and more frequently Kisis, 
moon and sun in American. On the other hand, Kisis 
being an alternative of Kiris, which, with the addition of 
the sign of the eye, O, Okeris, Osiris was the name of the 
sun personified in Egypt, it follows that the god -sun and 
the god-moon, or goddess-moon would have borne the 
same name with the ancient Egyptians, as that one is 
carried still among those Indians." 

Costard has a remark about those two divinities ; saying, 
" Isis and Osiris being the moon and the sun, the only 
sense in which they can be said to be in love with each 
other must be at their conjunction." But that savant refers 
to the dog-theory. ** Isis being put for Egypt," writes he, 
" and the Nile rising about the time the dog-star rose 
heliacally, and being the cause of so much benefit to a 

Gods and their Meaning. 147 

country that wants rain, easily affords a reason why that 
star is said to belong to Isis." 

The astronomical idea of Isis has exercised the minds of 
many from early times. Anubis, the dog-headed god, is 
the guide and attendant of Isis during her search for the 
remains of her husband. Abbe Dupuis calls her " the 
Virgin of the constellations, the Isis who opened the year." 
Taylor the Platonist spiritualizes the conception ; saying, 
" This is not the moon, but one of the divinities that revolve 
in the lower spheres, as an attendant on the moon." But 
the moon, not less than the sun, traverses the constellations. 
She was represented, as Murillo has pictured the Madonna, 
standing on the crescent, with an arch of stars above her 
head. The two similar forms may, by a curious coincidence, 
be seen in the Vatican Museum; their juxtaposition there 
is suggestive. 

Isis has been commonly esteemed to be the Virgo of the 
zodiac. On some of the earliest plates of the signs, Virgo 
has the appearance of Isis. The Arabian philosopher, 
Abulmazar, is explicit on this. " One sees," he says, " in 
the first Decan of the sign of the Virgin, according to the 
most ancient traditions of the Persians, Chaldeans, Egyp- 
tians, of Hermes and of Esculapius, a chaste, pure, im- 
maculate virgin, of a beautiful figure, and an agreeable 
face, having an air of modesty, holding in her hand two 
ears of corn, seated on a throne, nourishing and suckling a 
young child." 

That her worship was early transferred to the Virgin 
Mary we know from the best testimony. The Collyri- 
dions and Marians were in force before the Council of Nice 
in A.D. 325. They distinctly deified her. The Melchites 
at the Council of Nice contended that the one true Trinity 
was the Father, the Virgin Mother Mary, and the Son 
Jesus. As Isis was carried to heaven by her Son Horus, 

148 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

Ariadne by Bacchus, and Alcmenae by Hercules, so, in the 
early Christian Church, the Virgin Mary was declared to 
have been carried to heaven by her glorified Son. This is, 
at least, a striking testimony of that craving for a female 
side of deity in the human breast. 

The grand procession of Isis was in the month Athyr, 
when her ark, containing, according to King's "Gnosticism," 
the emblems of the masculine and feminine principles, was 
borne by the priests, and Cotlyris cakes were eaten in her 
honour. These cakes were marked with the sign of the 
cross. Costard speaks of other cakes, on the seventh of 
the month Tybi, in remembrance of her return from Phoe- 
nicia. A dog led the procession. Ezekiel saw in the 
secret court of the temple her worship. The Athyr festival 
commemorated the weeping of Isis for her lost lord. 
Plato refers to the melodies on the occasion as being very 
ancient. The Miserere in Rome has been said to be simi- 
lar in its melancholy cadence, and to be derived from it. 
Weeping veiled virgins followed the ark. The Noriias, or 
veiled virgins, wept also for the loss of our Saxon fore- 
fathers' god, the ill-fated but good Baldur. 

The winged Isis was the cherub, or ArieJi. She was 
then Isis the protectress. Dressed in white, she was Day ; 
in black, NigJit. " On her breast," says Montfaucon, " was 
a mark like the St. Andrew's Cross." 

The Isiac Table was a reputed monument of Egyptian 
art, giving illustrations of the goddess. It was of copper, 
overlaid with black enamel and small plates of silver. 
Father Kircher, the philosophical Jesuit, had a deal to say 
about it. Abbe Banier believed it was a votive offering to 
Isis in one of her temples. It was well known in Rome 
to the learned. At the sack of that city in 1525, it came 
into the possession of a soldier, and was afterwards sold 
to Cardinal Bembo. The Duke of Mantua then became its 

Gods and their Meaning . 149 

owner. After the siege of Mantua, in 1630, we hear no 
more of this precious reHc. It is now generally beUeved 
that this was a clumsy forgery. 

Montfaucon truly said : " The Egyptians reduced every- 
thing to Isis." Plutarch cites this incription on her image : 
'' I am the female nature, or mother nature, which contained 
in herself the generation of all things." Her descent to 
hell in search of Osiris, like that of the Babylonian Astarte 
for Tammuz, was also a deep mystery. But these questions 
were too recondite for the mass of Egyptians. With them 
she was the good wife, and the good mother. To them, indi- 
vidually, she was the guardian of the dead. They placed 
her weeping figure at the end of the coffin. The dead per- 
sonify Osiris. She who wept for him will weep for them. 
She who followed him to the underworld will accompany 
them in the painful pilgrimage below. She will plead for 
them before Osiris at the judgment, and be for ever with 
them in the Land of the Blest. 

Nephthys was the sister of Isis, and daughter of Rhea 
by Chronos. She became the wife of Typhon, the foe of 

Her connection with the myth of Osiris, more fully 
detailed in another place, is an interesting one. She is 
no party to the unnatural crime of her husband, Typhon. 
Her sympathy for her afflicted sister is sincere. In fact, 
she never seems to be away from her. She weeps with 
her at the bier of Osiris. 

She bears a house and a disk on her head, and is repre- 
sented with her hand to her forehead, as if sorrowing. The 
disk is between the two horns of a crescent. On her 
monuments, she is styled, " Daughter of the Sun ; " 
" Directress of the abodes of souls ; " " Great mistress of 
women ; " " Mistress of two worlds," etc. 

1 50 Egyptian Belief and Mociei'ii TJwttgJit. 

She is the genius of the lower world. She is identified 
with the fortunes of the dead. She is associated with Isis, 
as weeping over the departed, and going with them on 
their journey in the other life, toward the final reward of 
Paradise. Anubis, the Egyptian Pluto, is called her son. 
She shares with him the dominion of the World of Spirits. 

Plutarch, like other Greek philosophers, sought an intel- 
lectual origin for her, as distinguished from Isis. " Neph- 
thys," he considers, '* designs that which is under the earth, 
and which one sees not, and Isis that which is above earth, 
and which is visible." He adds, " The circle of the horizon, 
which divides these two hemispheres, and which is com- 
mon to both, is Anubis ; and they give him the figure of a 
dog, because that animal sees as well in the night as in the 
day." Certainly, Isis, as well as Nephthys, is mystically 
called the mother of Anubis. 

Some say she means the sands of the desert ; and is, 
therefore, no friend to man. Others call her the sea coast. 
The myth of Venus rising from the sea comes from 
Nephthys. She is the end, as Isis is the beginning, of all 
things. On the whole, it may be afifirmed that she is Isis, 
or the female principle of Nature, in some peculiar form of 
action. There was, doubtless, a moral, as well as a meta- 
physical, exponent in the myth of this sad-faced goddess. 

Osiris was, unquestionably, the popular god of Egypt. 
The myth of Osiris, elsewhere to be discussed, was essen- 
tially a progressive one. But, under all forms, with any 
meaning, real or understood, Osiris was dear to the hearts 
of the people. He was pre-eminently "good." He was in 
life and death their friend. His birth, death, burial, resur- 
rection and ascension embraced the leading points of 
Egyptian theology. 

His figure on monuments is well known. Whether 

Gods and their Meaning. 1 5 i 

standing, or seated on his throne of judgment, he bears 
the staff and whip, and carries the crux ansata, or cross 
with the handle. He has, usually, a white skin ; but his 
neck is red. The face has often a greenish cast. But the 
Black Osiris, with a decided Ethiopian appearance, was a 
mystery, as was the Black Isis. It symbolized the dark 
region of the dead, over which he was fabled to reign. 
Dr. Hincks, who attaches that meaning to the colour, 
regards it as, perhaps, the most ancient form of the god. 
The Black Boodh, though worshipped chiefly by men of 
light complexion, was the oldest style of that deity, and 
indicated his origin from Egypt. 

*' The cap of Osiris was, oddly enough," says Mr. Wilson, 
in his " Solar System of the Ancients," " in its outline a 
hyperbolic reciprocal curve." This is an evidence of the 
advance of geometry in that very ancient time. He is 
seated on hyperbolic steps, decreasing as i, \, J, etc., to 
infinity, which was thus prefigured. Of course, as a sun- 
god, he has a disk on his head. 

His feet are never seen, being bound as a mummy. 
St. Andrew's cross is upon his breast. His throne is in 
chequers, to denote the good and evil over which he 
presides, or to indicate the good and evil who appear 
before him as the judge. The ur ceils, or serpent ornament, 
is always on his head. He has with him a sort of bushel 
measure. His whip became the trident of Neptune. 

His father was Seb, answering to Saturn, or celestial 
fire. His mother was Neith, the infinite space, or original 
matter. Isis and Nephthys were his sisters, and Typhon 
was his brother. He was born at Mount Sinai, the Nissa 
of Exodus xvii. 15. Dionysus was also born at Nysa, or 
Nissa. The " Zeus of Nysa is traced by the author of the 
Great Dionysiak Myth" to the Semitic East. He was 
buried at Abydos ; having lived but twenty-eight years. 

152 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thotight. 

He, his son, his brother and sisters were born out of due 
time, — that is, on the five days created at the end of the 
orthodox year of 360 days. 

As the solar deity, he has twelve companions, — the 
Signs of the Zodiac. Although it was said of him, as of 
First God of the Chaldeans, Greeks, and Jews, that he had 
no name, he had forty -two special names, or attributes. 
There were forty-two noines or provinces in Egypt, and 
forty-two gods or judges in Hades, as there were forty- 
two, or thrice fourteen, members of his body. Among his 
one hundred and twelve names is, the Ineffable. One 
prays in the Ritual, ''Declare to me thy name." The 
Greek Dionysus had one hundred and fifty names. 

Though Isis is his particular wife, he was said to live for 
six months with her, and six months with her sister Neph- 
thys. This must be in all solar myths. The sun is six 
months in the upper signs of the zodiac, and six in the 
lower. Adonis had Venus for his celestial, and Proserpine 
for his infernal, partner. Hercules, the saviour, had two 
partners. Even St. George, in the myth of St. George 
and the Dragon, was favoured with the company of a holy 
woman on earth ; and a queen, executed with him, de- 
scended with him below. 

Ancient authors have identified Osiris with the Sun. 
Plutarch says he was known to the Greeks as Zeirios, 
belonging to the sun. But Plutarch sees him in a philoso- 
phical sense, as Synesius in a political. Osiris was said to 
die twice a year, after the sun fashion. Mariette Bey con- 
templates him as the nocturnal sun. Wilson's '* Solar 
System " simply puts it thus : " The emblems of the 
divinity of Osiris are the symbols of the laws by which 
the planetary system is governed. The sun was wor- 
shipped under the name of Osiris." Abbe Dupuis, of 
course, held that opinion. Creuzer calls him Hercules, or 

Gods and thew Meaning. 153 

the sun. It is said that there were 360 pitchers, or vases, 
for libations, placed round his tomb ; that bears an evident 
solar reference. Lenormant finds the nocturnal sun was 
known by the name of Osiris. 

While we have various representations of Osiris, he 
mainly comes before us in a celestial and a terrestrial 
form. He is in heaven, and yet he was on earth. 

In heaven, — or, rather, in the spiritual existence, — he is 
the Absolute, the All. He is styled on monuments, " Lord 
of life;" "Lord of ages;" "Light of the world ; " "Dis- 
penser of nourishment ; " " King of gods ; " " Creator of 
gods ; " " Nameless One ; " " Opener of truth ; " " Full of 
goodness and trust ;" " Eternal One ;" " Supreme Being ;" 
'' Glorified One ; " " Lord of Heaven ; " " Ruler of eter- 
nity;" "Beholder of good," etc. As the dismembered 
one, he is Sepi ; but as intact, he is Neberzer. As Unno- 
fre, he is the good being. As Neb-ua, he is the One. As 
judge of souls, he is Rhotamenti, king of Amenti, or 
Hades ; whence the Greek Rhadamanthus. 

From prayers to Osiris, the following may be cited : — 
" I come to thee, to contemplate thy perfections. — Per- 
mit me to be among thy servants for ever. — I come to 
thee, great god, O Osiris, who dwellest in the west. — I 
am delighted to anticipate thy beauty ; my arms are 
stretched out to adore thy majesty. — Accord me bright- 
ness, power, and justification. — Hail, Osiris, lord of the 
length of days, king of gods ! The air we breathe is in 
his nostrils, for his own satisfaction, and the gladdening of 
his heart. He purifies the realms of space, which taste of 
his felicity, because the stars that move therein obey him 
in the height of heaven. — All who see him, of whatever 
conntiy, respect and love him. — In will and word he is 
benignant. — Divine guardian, completing himself in jus- 
tice. — The great of the great, the master of masters. — 

154 Egyptian Belief and Modeint Thonght. 

All those who live on earth, come to thee. — Thou art 
their god, to the exclusion of all others. — Beings and 
non-beings depend on thee. — Beloved by all who see 
him. — Every one glorifies his goodness. — Mild is his love 
for us. — His tenderness surrounds our souls." 

In the above extracts most readers cannot fail to recog- 
nize the lofty conception of a First God, a Providence, and 
a pure and Personal Deity. The Hebrew prophets spoke 
of Jehovah in similar terms. Without doubt, Osiris was 
in the minds of the Egyptians the exponent of what we 
understand by God. 

An extraordinary Phoenician inscription, called the Car- 
pentras, has yielded the following : " Blessed be Ta-Bai, 
daughter of Ta-Hapi, priest of Osiris Eloh. She did 
nothing against any one in anger. She spoke no false- 
hoods against any one. Justified before Osiris, blessed be 
thou from before Osiris ! Peace be to thee." 

Upon this, the scholarly Mr. Dunbar T. Heath has these 
words : " The author of this inscription ought, I suppose, 
to be called a heathen, as justification before Osiris is the 
substance of his religious aspirations. We find, however, 
that he gives to Osiris the appellation EloJi. Eloh is the 
name used by the Ten Tribes of Israel for the Elohim of 
Two Tribes. Jehovah-Eloh (Gen. iii. 21) in the version 
used by Ephraim corresponds to Jehovah Elohim in that 
used by Judah and ourselves. This being so, the question 
is sure to be asked, and ought to be humbly answered — 
What was the meaning meant to be conveyed by the two 
phrases respectively, Osiris Eloh and Jehovah Eloh } For 
my part, I can imagine but one answer, viz., that Osiris was 
the national God of Egypt, Jehovah that of Israel, and that 
Eloh is equivalent to Deics, Gott, or Dicur 

But Osiris has the very distinct character of Pluto, or god 
of the world of spirits. He is Oun-nofre, king of ghostland. 

Gods and their Memiing. 155 

A prayer of the nineteenth dynasty bursts forth in praise : 
" Adoration to Osiris, who resides in Amenti (Hades), at 
Oun-nefer, king of eternity, great god manifested in the 
celestial abyss." He is the god of the dead. To him 
prayers are addressed by the deceased for himself, and 
by friends for him. He is solicited to show compassion, to 
be guide through the dark passages of the Amenti, etc. 
Above all this, he is the judge of souls in Amenti ; though 
that office establishes the supremacy of his divinity. 

Mariette Bey quotes from ancient writings the following : 
" He who occupies a place near Ra ; the king of immense 
times ; master of eternity ; when the sun rises it is of his 
will ; no other god can do what he has done ; no one can 
live without his will ; king of Amenti ; he is the soul of the 
dead in the funeral region." As elsewhere noted, the dead 
are called by his name in that region. 

Then, Osiris has a human development. He is God in 
heaven and hell, but once appeared as man on earth. 

The stories on this subject were, of course, very conflict- 
ing, as the Greeks have been our chief informants. 

He is one of the Saviours or Deliverers of Humanity, to 
be found in almost all lands. As such, he is born into the 
world. He came, as a benefactor, to relieve man of trouble, 
to supply his wants. The offices commonly ascribed to 
Thoth were performed by Osiris ; as he teaches people agri- 
culture, the care of the Nile water, and many other useful 
things. In his efforts to do good, he encounters evil. In 
struggling with that, he is temporarily overcome. He is 
killed. The story, entered into in the account of the Osiris 
myth, is a circumstantial one. Osiris is buried. His tomb 
was the object of pilgrimage for thousands of years. But 
he did not rest in his grave. At the end of three days, or 
forty, he rose again, and ascended to heaven. This is the 
story of his Humanity. 

156 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

Osiris did not originally occupy the place in Egyptian 
thought he came eventually to hold. Called " Father," 
" Supreme," " The First," etc., he was assuredly not such 
at the beginning. The names of Khem, Ammon, and 
Ptah were those earlier in the list of creators. Mr. Hard- 
wick, whose opinions have been before quoted, draws an 
interesting comparison between the Egyptian and Hindoo 
mythologies. In accounting for the supplanting of Ptah 
by Osiris, he says : " Osiris had for ages co-existed with 
Ptah himself in some departments of the Delta, as 
Brahma, the younger god of Hindostan, eventually 
supplanted Indra, the most prominent of Vaidic deities." 
It was another illustration of religious revolution, though 
in the pre-historic period. 

On the earliest tombs we have certainly Anubis main- 
taining the position of god of the dead more than Osiris, 
or more often coming to the front. A captain in the army 
under the fifth dynasty is seen doing homage to Osiris. 
Mariette Bey writes : '' The name of Osiris is very rare be- 
fore the sixth dynasty." Again, spealiing of that era, he 
says : " The name of Osiris, hitherto so rare, commences to 
be more used. The formula of Jitstified is met with, also, 
on rare occasions." As he is known as tJie justified or 
DiakJiern^ that writer adds, " it proves that this name was 
not given to the dead only." The Bey considered that in 
the twelfth dynasty Osiris was " in full possession of the 
sojourn of the dead." It was later than that when we per- 
ceive the scarabeus devoted to him. No one doubts his 
full power under the eighteenth dynasty. 

But, though often at first associated with Anubis in the 
Prayers of the Dead, there is direct evidence of his honour- 
able position during the days of the Great Pyramid, when 
so much of the substantial theology of the country was 
already settled. 

Gods aiid their Meaning. 157 

The coffin of King Menkeres, fourth king of the fourth 
dynasty, though without paintings, contains the earhest 
known extract from the Egyptian Scriptures, the Ritual. 
On it are these words : " Oh ! Osiris, King of Upper and 
Lower Egypt, Menkaura, ever living, born of Nut, sub- 
stance of Seb, thy mother Nut is spread over thee. She 
renders thee divine by annihilating thy enemies. Oh! 
King Menkaura, live for ever ! " 

In the fourth dynasty therefore, B.C. 4000, the god was 
the demiurgus, or Logos, the first-born of heaven, — Nout. 
It would be difficult to place him upon a loftier platform. 

HORUS, or Hor, the last in the line of divine sovereig-ns 
in Egypt, was the reputed son of Osiris and Isis. He has, 
like his parents, a celestial and a mundane history. 

He is styled " Horus, the Powerful ; the beloved of the 
sun, the Ra, the offspring of the gods, the subjugator of 
the world." He is the great god — loved of heaven. His 
birth was one of the greatest mysteries of the religion. 
Pictures representing it appeared on the walls of temples. 
One passed through the holy Adytum to the still more 
sacred quarter of the temple known as the birthplace of 
Horus, He was presumably the child of Deity. At 
Christmas time, or that answering to our festival, his image 
was brought out from that sanctuary with peculiar cere- 
monies, as the image of the infant Bambino is still brought 
out and exhibited in Rome. Women then, as women now^, 
believed in the efficacy of that image of the infant for 
their relief in the time of nature's sorrows. 

Hawk-headed, as became a leading god, carrying the 
flail, with a winged disk for his symbol, he came from the 
maern mist, or sacred birthplace, as the '* Mystic child of 
the ark," and as the " Unbegotten god." With out- 
stretched arms he is the vault of heaven. 

158 Egyptian Belief and Modern TJiottght, 

As a child, he is Harpocrates, or Ehoou, with the riU, or 
rolled plait of hair of youth, on the right side of his head, 
and with the finger in his mouth. The solar disk is upon 
his head. His hair, as with all youthful solar deities, 
Apollo, Baldur, etc., is of a light, or ray colour. 

As Chons-Hor, he is supposed to be the son of Sevek 
and Athor. He carries the crook and whip of Osiris, whom 
he represents. *'As Horus Ra," says Cooper, ■'' his first 
and most abstruse character, Horus is identified with the 
Supreme Being himself." As Horus Sneb, he is the 
Redeemer. He is Lord of Life and " Eternal One." 

Horus is called ''the feeble-footed,'^ from the Harpocrates 
side of his character, being of a feeble and untimely birth. 
In fact, he is often without feet. This may mean the 
weakness of Nature in the winter, when there is a partial 
suspension of vegetating force. The absence of feet may 
be a symbol of that repose in all agricultural operations 
during the period of inundation. The Egyptian story says, 
however, that he was born in winter, and brought up se- 
cretly in the isle of Buto, for fear of his uncle Typhon. 

But Horus, with his lion emblem, is the hero of battle, 
the strong one, the mighty conqueror, the avenger of his 
father's wrongs, the punisher of the wicked. Monuments 
depict him as the Egyptian St. George, contending with 
the dragon, Typhon. Lance in hand, he pierces the evil 
serpent, pinning him to the earth. He bruises or spears 
the head of Apophis, the cursed serpent, standing triumph- 
antly upon him. He spears the Typhonic hippopotamus, 
and holds up the trophies of his victory, — the genitalia of 
his foe Typhon. This may refer to the agricultural conquest 
over inundation and devastation, as Abbe Pluche imagines; 
or the power of the sun in the field. 

Horus Generator is a type of the glorious resurrection. 
The disk-headed god reappears as Horus in the horizon, 

Gods and theh^ Meaning. 159 

the sphinx deity, to notify the new birth of the soul. The 
" Divine child " is the risen sun. He is, too, vegetable 
birth in the spring. His pitchers indicate his part in the 
inundation that is to bring a fresh existence of plants. 

His flail points to his part as the redresser of wrongs, or 
retributive Providence. He lets not evil escape him. He 
is the warlike Perseus to deliver Andromeda (human nature) 
from the cruel assaults of the monster. He is the Apollo 
shooting his arrows against the enemies of his father's 
house. He is the Vedic god, darting fire upon his accusers. 
His flail is the club of Hercules to crush the Hydra of moral 
evil. He is the Mithra subduer of the bull of Persia. 

Horus is a virtuous deity. Like Apollo, he has no 
amours. His part in the lower world is associated with the 
judgment. He introduces souls to his father, the Judge. 
He stands by the balance, which is to mark their character. 
He is the executive justice, as he pursues the evil doers, 
decapitates them, pierces them with his sword, or directs 
against them the fiery breath of the serpent Mehen, upon 
whose folds he stands. This proves him to be the " sub- 
stance of his father," as the tablet says, or the incarnation 
of Osiris. The temple of Edfou, as the magnificent work 
of Edouard Naville shows, is crowded with memorials of 

The gentle, or feminine, side of his character is marked 
in the Tentyra planisphere, as a lion with a virgin's face. 
Feeble in his infancy, strong in his manhood, he is kind in 
his life. A hymn, taken from an ancient record, gives a 
beautiful picture of the Egyptian conceptions of this Osiric 

" By him the world is judged in that which it contains. 
Heaven and earth are under his immediate presence. He 
rules all human beings. The sun goes round according to 
his purpose. He brings forth abundance, and dispenses it 

1 60 Egyptian Belief and Modern ThoitgJit. 

to all the earth. Every one adores his beauty. Sweet is 
his love in us." 

They who prefer the consideration of Horus as the 
material sun, to Horus of the intellect and affections, lose 
some incentive to the practice of goodness, and the power 
of divine example. 

But our forefathers, in their supposed savage heathendom, 
were able to realize a similar character in the youthful 
Baldur, of the white and shining hair, to whom the hoarse 
throats of blood-stained warriors chanted the GcnctJdia, or 
birth songs. The Northmen's Bible, the " Edda," has this 
charming sketch of Baldur : " He is the best, and all man- 
kind are loud in his praise ; so fair and dazzling is he in 
form and features, that rays of light seem to issue from 

Plutarch's philosophy is tame enough after this, saying, 
" Osiris represents the beginning and principle ; Isis, that 
which receives ; and Horus, the compound of both. Horus 
engendered between them (which is the world), is not 
eternal, nor impassible^ nor incorruptible, but, being always 
in generation, he endeavours by vicissitude of mutations, 
and by periodical passion, to continue always young, as if 
he should never die." 

Arouerts, Greek god Harsiesi, is the elder Horus, hav- 
ing a temple at Ambos. There is much mystery about 
him. He was begotten, it is said, by Osiris and Isis when 
they were in the bosom of their mother. In some inscrip- 
tions he is styled the brother of Osiris and Isis. The utmost 
we know is that he was a form of Horus. As executor 
of justice, Horus is Hartema. Hor is styled son of Osiris 
Unnofre by Naville. 

Horus is one of the early divinities of Egypt. On the 
thigh of a priest of Horus, one Ra-sankh, are said to be 
inscribed some '^ characters belonging to the Pyramid 

Gods and theh^ Meanino^. i6i 


epoch," that is, of the fourth dynasty. A stele records, 
during the fifth dynasty, the death of the high priest of 
Horus. The oitfa, or symbohc Eye of Horus, occurs on 
an altar of the sixth dynasty. It may then be presumed, 
that, with Osiris, Isis, Anubis, and Thoth, Horus was a 
deity of the people at or before the first dynasty. 



THIS great mystery of the Egyptians demands serious 
consideration. Its antiquity, — its universal hold upon 
the people for over five thousand years, — its identification 
Avith the very life of the nation, — and its marvellous likeness 
to creeds of modern date, unite in exciting the highest 

A distinguished author, entitled to the highest respect. 
Sir Gardner Wilkinson, writes as follows : " No Egyptian 
deity was supposed to have lived on earth, and to have 
been deified after death, as with the Greeks and other 
people." Does Egyptian theology sanction that opinion ? 

Osiris was, without doubt, the most popular god in 
Egypt. The secret of that popularity was, that he had 
lived on earth as benefactor, died for man's good, and 
lived again as friend and judge. 

Pierret says : " Osiris has reigned upon the earth, where 
he has left such a remembrance of his beneficence that he 
has become the type of goodness, under the name of 
Ounnowre." He was the Lord over all, the " Only One, 
of whom the moral manifestation is goodness." Maspero 
writes : " We find we have no longer to do with the in- 
finite and intangible god of ancient days ; but rather with 
a god of flesh and blood, who lives upon earth, and has 
so abased himself as to be no more than a human being." 

It is idle for us, at this distance of time, to talk of him as 
a solar myth, or a refined intellectualism of the Egyptians ; 
he was a person who had lived and died. They had no 
manner of doubt about it. Did they not know his birth- 

The Myth of Osiris, 163 

place ? Did they not celebrate his birth by the most 
elaborate ceremonies, with cradle, lights, etc. ? Did they 
not hold his tomb at Abydos ? Did they not annually 
celebrate at the Holy Sepulchre his resurrection ? Did 
they not commemorate his death by the Eucharist, eating 
the Sacred Cake, after it had been consecrated by the 
priests, and become veritable flesh of his flesh ? 

The story of Osiris was, like many others, a growing one. 
It was too profitable to a class not to be expanded and 
miracularized. What it was in the beginning we have but 
fev\r means of ascertaining. From before the Pyramid 
times all the leading characters were known. These were 
Osiris, Isis, Nephthys, Horus, and Typhon. The main 
features of the myth were, doubtless, then in existence. 
But we perceive under the New Empire, especially, a re- 
markable extension or filling up of the idea. With increas- 
ing knowledge of human wants and feelings came the 
development. Too much confidence must not be placed 
in Greek authorities. They brought philosophy — though 
originally borrowed from Egypt — and mixed it up with 
what they gathered from priests. 

Plutarch's wonderful work on Osiris and Isis has been 
the text book upon the subject. He claims to have got 
his information from the best Egyptian authority. But 
there are grave difficulties in our way of accepting his 
conclusions. He belonged to a tale-telling nation, and a 
publishing one. Was it likely that such a man could, by 
interviewing, have learned much from the priests of 
Thebes } 

It was possible for him to glean something, and to infer 
more. From hieroglyphics he could get little, if anything, 
as they were but very partially understood then by any 
one, or HorapoUo would not have made such a hash-up of 
them. Floating notions would be gathered, and a shrewd 

1 64 Egyptian Belief and Modern TJioiight. 

observer of rites and ceremonies would realize a good deal. 
The Ptolemaic Egyptian writers were a hybrid and con- 
ceited set, who, like the jackdaw, stole a stray feather or 
two from the grand old sacerdotal peacock, and strutted 
about in mock majesty. As the real and higher secrets of 
religion were, in all ages, confided only to a few, those 
hybrids were very unlikely to get these from the initiated. 

But, as there is every reason to believe that after the 
sixth dynasty, or even fifth, some terrible national calamity 
occurred, which particularly pressed upon the priestly or 
learned class, causing a most striking decline even in the 
natural exposition of the arts, we may certainly conclude 
that some of the more important secrets of civilization, as 
well as theology, were modified, if not lost, at that ver>^ 
remote epoch. Again, under the Hycsos, or Shepherd 
Kings, there was another long period of religious gloom. 
Social, dynastic, intellectual, and theological revolutions 
followed. The Persian invasion was the most fatal of all 
in its effects upon the priests. These facts may well make 
us pause before accepting the philosophical explanations 
of Plutarch and other Greeks. 

The details of the myths vary, necessarily, and are very 
confusing. But, although far from certain as to the facts 
of the story, enough comes before us as data for approxi- 
mate conclusions. Before the sceptic, however, rashly 
pronounces against the whole thing as absurd invention, let 
him face the difficulties in the path of enquiry upon any 
assumed matters of fact. Let him try and analyze the 
floating stories about St. George, St. Patrick, and the 
Virgin Mary ; in which a basis of truth will be generally 
accepted. Then let him endeavour to unravel the mystery 
of Osiris. 

Osiris was originally a divinity. Subsequently he, or 
some one of his name, and assumed to be the same person, 

The Myth of Osiris, 165 

appears as a ruler of Egypt. Further on, he becomes 
again divine, and the object of prayer. 

He and his brother Typhon Hve amicably together in 
Abydos with their wives Isis and Nephthys. Osiris has been 
very useful to his people, advancing their civilisation and 
promoting their piety. Being summoned on a career of 
conquest in Southern Asia, perhaps India, his brother con- 
spires with seventy-two others. Upon his return, he is met 
by these, and entertained at a banquet. As part of the 
entertainment, a peculiar box is introduced, and one after 
another tries vainly to get into it. Osiris is induced to try, 
and it fits him properly. The conspirators shut the lid, and 
effectually closed it. He entered the box or ark on the 
i;th of Athyr (November 13th), the very day and month 
on which Noah passed into the ark. The box was thrown 
into the Nile, or the sea as some say. Carried onward by 
the inundation, it was fixed in a wood. Ultimately it got 
enclosed by a growing palm, and enveloped in its timber. 

Isis heard at Chemnis of the cruelty to her husband. 
Hastily summoning Anubis, the dog-headed, her son or 
nephew, she set out seeking for her lord's body. At Byblus 
she found the palm ; but it was guarded by magical power, 
so that she could not extract the coffin. As she watched, 
the king of Byblus came looking for a tree to serve as a 
column to his palace. This one was selected. In vain did 
the goddess, metamorphosed as a dove, utter plaintive 
cries to dissuade the men from cutting down the palm. 
Making the best of things, however, she resumed her 
womanly shape, walked on to the palace, and took the 
office of nurse to the queen's child. Ingratiating herself 
into royal good graces, she was able to overcome the 
magical obstruction, and so secured the coffin. 

But her troubles were not over. Typhon, through 
emissaries, discovered the recovery, and artfully stole the 

1 66 Egyptia7i Belief and Modern Tho2tght. 

box. Cutting up the body into fourteen pieces (or forty- 
two in another version), he threw them away in various 
places. Isis, then, had the sad work of hunting up the 
remains, lamenting, as she walked, with her maidens, also 
lamenting. Only thirteen of these parts could be secured. 
The missing one, the phallus, had been swallowed by a 
fish. Making a likeness of this out of sycamore wood, she 
brought the whole to Abydos for burial. 

Her sister and she now stood over the corpse weep- 
ing, and chanting the songs of the dead. Such was the 
power of these tears and prayers, that one member of 
Osiris began to evidence vitality, and secured conception 
in the faithful wife. Ultimately he rose to life. We do 
not recognize him further as king of Egypt. He seems to 
disappear, and ascend to heaven, as he is known after this 
as the resurrected one, the God of the unseen world, the 
future Judge of all souls. 

The Horus part of the story is most interesting. Nomi- 
nally the son of Osiris, begotten and born after death, he is, 
in fact, merely the incarnation of Osiris, as a god, in the 
way that Apis was an anirr^al symbol. While his mother 
bore him, Typhon, sensible that the son was to be the 
avenger of the father, sought to prevent his birth, or secure 
him upon his appearance on earth. One story is, that she 
was caught up to the sun ; another, that she fled to the 
sea ; but the usual account is that she secretly took up 
quarters on a little island in a lake near Buto. 

Rouge reads the following from an ancient monument 
respecting Isis : '' She is beneficent in will and speed. — She 
went round the world lamenting him (Osiris). She stopped 
not till she found him. — She raised the remains of the god 
of her resting heart. — She had a child. She suckled the 
babe in loneliness." 

Horus grew to mature strength. He then sallied forth 

The Myth of Osiris. 167 

in pursuit of Typhon. The great contest took place upon 
the plain beyond Siout. Victory decided in favour of the 
good divinity. On papyri, on coffins, on steles, on statues, 
on the walls of temples, Horus is variously represented 
triumphing over Typhon. The latter is most often seen as 
the dragon, the evil serpent ; and the other, like a George 
or a Siegfried, is piercing him with a spear. But the 
Typhon is only wounded. Horus appears with the emas- 
culated member of his foe ; still, the Egyptians continued 
to fear Typhon in this life, and more particularly in the 
next, as magical formulae were necessary to keep him even 
tolerably within bounds. 

Now, the above, with variations, constitutes the myth of 
Osiris. The interpretation, or interpretations, will next be 

The priests who, according to some folks, were incarna- 
tions of evil, and self-elected deceivers and torturers of 
humanity, have been imagined the constructors of this fine 
story for certain reasons of policy, and, primarily, to secure 
their own exalted position. They are usually represented 
as chuckling over their jugglery, glorying in their secret, 
and sneering at the victims of their pious fraud. 

Few thinkers, however, would doubt that the great 
majority of teachers trusted in the lessons they taught. 
Some persons charge even Roman Catholic priests with 
dishonest denial of their creed ; a charge too absurd on the 
face of it to be entertained. That one in a thousand of 
the Egyptian priests may have been admitted into some 
mysteries, and learned an explanation of the story, may 
be allowed ; but whether any heard in the arcaniLin what 
had been divulged to the initiated thousands of years 
before, is open to question. 

No explanation, of an Egyptian source, has ever been 
given of the myth of Osiris. Some have traced it, as they 

1 68 Egyptian Belief and Modern Tliottght, 

thought, to other lands. One author, identifying Dionysos 
with Osiris would give it a Semitic origin. The idea may 
be traced through Phoenicia to Chaldea. But Assyriologists 
prove the Semites to have been a wandering race, who 
accepted the very religion and letters of the more cultured 
and ancient people on the Euphrates. Besides, the best of 
authorities date the Semitic reign from B.C. 2000, while 
Osiris was known in Egypt thousands of years before. It 
is still open to question whether Chaldeans and Egyptians 
did not get it from a source anterior to both, but now, 
perhaps, buried in the ocean beyond the Arab " Gate of 

Greek authors philosophized upon it, or ridiculed it. 
Athenagoras laughed gaily at the Egyptian absurdity of 
first weeping for the death of their god, then rejoicing at 
his resurrection, and afterwards sacrificing to him as a 
Divinity. Synesius, on the contrary, thinks that, though a 
fable, it signifies something more than fable, because, says 
he, " the Egyptians transcend in wisdom." 

That there was some foundation for the fable is evi- 
dent from the fact that other nations have versions of the 
same story. A glance at some of these, if throwing no 
new light upon Osiris, will show a wide range of sympathy 
with the idea. 

The flight of Isis with her unborn babe from the fury 
of Typhon was that of Astrea, when beset by Orion, and 
of Latona, the mother of Apollo, when pursued by the 
monster. lacchus was torn to pieces by the Titans, like 
Osiris ; and Dionysus, the demiurgus of Syria, descended 
to hell, as he did. Chrishna, the black god of India, 
also descended below, and rose again. The Vedas say, 
" Agni has taken a human form for the good of hu- 
manity." The Indian Iswarra was, like Osiris, argha- 
iiautJia, the lord of the argha or boat. The battle of Bel 

The Myth of Osiris. 169 

and the Dragon has been already noticed. The Chaldean 
Hea or Oannes is Osiris, Judge of the dead ; Dav Kina is 
his wife, and Bel, or Merodach, his son, Ishtar of Babylon 
descended to Hades in search of her lost beloved. 

Babylon had its Osiris in Tam-zi, and Isis in Ishtar. 
Tam-zi is the Tammuz of Scripture. The Jewish philo- 
sopher, Moses Maimonides, refers to an old work on 
Nabatean agriculture, in which is a reference to the death 
of Tammuz, and a statement that all the idols of the earth 
went that night to weep round the golden image of the 
sun at Babylon, returning to their several temples before 
morning. The book mentions the annual mourning for 
Tammuz which Ezekiel saw in the temple of Jerusalem. 
F. Lenormant thus notes the incident : " It is more than 
probable that before the descent of AUat (Ishtar) into the 
' unchangeable country,' the poem related the death of 
Tammuz, and I believe I discover a trace of the manner in 
which it was presented, a sort of translation of that part of 
the story, in a piece of a very particular character which 
Moses Maimonides reports in the book of Nabatean agri- 

Baldur, the Scandinavian god, was killed, like Tammuz, 
in midwinter, and descended to Hades. His brother 
Hermod went off on Odin's famous horse Sleipnir, and 
begged Hela to let him come out of her dominions ; saying 
that all gods and men were mourning for his loss. The 
resurrection of Baldur followed after. 

Dionysus and Bacchus were sin-bearers, like Osiris. 
Atys of Phrygia was emasculated and killed by the wild 
boar ; after being mourned for, he was restored to life, and 
the rejoicings took place at the Hilaria, on the primitive 
Easter, March 15th. Bacchus was murdered, and the re- 
mains of his lacerated body were collected by his weeping 
mother Ariadne. Ausonius, a form of Bacchus, was slain 

I 70 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

at the vernal equinox, March 21st, and rose in three days. 
Adonis, so mourned for by Venus, was slain by a wound in 
his side. The Persian Mithra, son of the good god, drove 
the evil Ahriman out of heaven, and was believed by the 
Persians to become their future judge. Tammuz, the 
Syriac name for Adonis, was called the torn spotted fawn. 
Ezekiel viii. 14 notes the weeping women, who shaved parts 
of their heads to exhibit their devotion to Tammuz. 

The idea running through these stories of the ancient 
mythology would appear to be pretty much the same. 
Two opinions prevail as to the origin of what may be a 
common custom or a common conception. While some 
contend that tribes, without connection with each other, 
might individually and spontaneously originate such, others 
conceive the necessity of derivation from some primary 

Finding Oriental nations of the past entertaining remark- 
able similarity of views upon religion, we may naturally 
trace back for an original source. The Egyptians were 
undeniably the first historical people, and have, therefore, 
been presumed the fathers of this singular religious thought 
• of a conflict between good and evil, with the death and 
recovery of the victor. But there is some evidence, however 
obscure, which points in a direction beyond them to a still 
earlier race of thinkers. 

This religio-ethnological question may be compared with 
a geological one. Until a few years ago the most ancient 
rocks of the world were Cambrian and Cumbrian. Still, as 
some of their strata were of sandstone or other composite 
rocks, it was concluded that the floor had not been gained. 
Eventually, the Laurentian series were discovered in 
Canada, and seen in North-west Scotland, below those 
formerly held to be the primary. But in this very Lauren- 
tian the presence of rolled pebbles indicated a previously 

The Myth of Osiris. 171 

existing set of formations, no trace of which is yet ascer- 

One version of the myth has been brought forward by 
Edouard Naville a iQ.\N years ago in his finely illustrated 
work on Edfou temple. He sees an ethnological and 
historical story. 

Horus was the last of the long series of royal divinities 
in Egypt, inaugurating the reign of mortal sovereigns, of 
whom Menes is traditionally held the first of the first 
dynasty, being placed by Lenormant's Ancient History at 
B.C. 5000. One account is that Osiris, in the 365th year 
of his reign, accompanied by Horus, came from Nubia to 
chase Typhon from Egypt. Typhon was lord of Egypt 
from Edfou to the eastern side of the Delta. The temple 
walls give the battles between them. Crocodiles and 
hippopotami came to the help of Typhon, and Thoth 
appears to the aid of Horus, who is eventually victorious 
and crowned king. 

But there is an interesting mention of the Schesou Hor 
as the companions and supporters of Horus. On this 
Vicomte Rouge inquires, whether these may not have been 
the aborigines of Egypt.-* Were these kings before Menes } 
Did the first dynasty represent a new race of settlers } 
Was Horus the leader of a pre-historic band, supported 
by the native population against some tyrant who is called 
Typhon } May not the story in its original form have 
been a distorted tradition of the facts of history .-^ Whence, 
then, the moral features of this myth .'' For, as Naville 
observes, " It is possible that this legend has been modified 
in the course of ages, but the bottom is the same, and the 
moral teaching has not changed." 

Greek writers, with strong metaphysical bias, looked on 
the Egyptian story through a rationalistic medium. 

Proclus talks thus prettily concerning Osiris : " who pre- 

172 Egyptian Belief and Modern Tlionght. 

sides over the whole of generation in nature, leads forth 
into light all natural reasons, and extends a prolific power 
from on high even to the subterranean realms." But he is 
a type of Neo-Platonism, and the School of Alexandria, so 
warmly set before us in the glowing pages of Kingsley. 
A modern author, known as Taylor the Platonist, writes : 
"The opposition which everywhere prevails in the universe, 
and also the barren and fertile periods which alternately 
take place in the sublunary regions, appear to be indicated 
by this Egyptian fable." 

Plutarch's philosophy is contained in these words : "The 
great principle of fecundity." With him, Osiris is ** a First 
Principle, and that every such principle, by means of its 
generative faculty, multiplies what proceeds from or is 
produced by it." This is not to be confined to a material 
sense, but extends to the origination of intellectual con- 
ceptions. Yet he writes, " Osiris is neither the sun, nor 
the water, nor the earth, nor the heaven ; but whatever 
there is in nature well disposed, well regulated, annual and 
perfect, all that is the image of Osiris." In another place 
he says : *' Whoever applies these allegories to the div^ine 
nature, ever blessed and immortal, deserves to be treated 
with contempt. We must not believe, however, that they 
are mere fables, without any meaning, like those of the 
poets. They represent things that really happened." 

By the way, in his interesting book, Plutarch gives the 
following sketch of an Osiric procession : — 

" Upon the nineteenth of the month the Egyptians go 
down at night to the sea ; at which time the priests and 
supporters (the Paterae) carry the sacred vehicles. In this 
is a golden vessel in the form of a ship or boat, into which 
they take and pour some river water. Upon this being 
performed, a shout of joy is raised, and Osiris is sup- 
posed to be found." After this, he says that " the priest 

The Myth of Osiris. i ']'x^ 

brought a sample of the most fruitful kind of earth, and 
put it into the water which was in the sacred scyphus. 
To this they added the richest gums and spices ; and the 
whole was moulded up into the form of a vessel, similar 
to a lunette." 

Abbe Pluche has no manner of doubt about the honest 
belief of the Egyptians in the simple story of Osiris, their 
individual as well as national benefactor, as others may 
realize the faith of Neapolitans in the annual liquefaction 
of the blood of their patron saint. He thinks that even 
supposing the leaders knew something beyond the popu- 
lar conceptions, '' it would have been dangerous for the 
Egyptian priests to attempt undeceiving the people, and 
to divert them from the pleasing thought that Osiris and 
Isis were two real persons." 

He adduces a proof of this danger. *' The actions of 
Osiris and Isis," says he, " were incessantly mentioned. 
The people believed what they saw and what they heard. 
The perpetual recitals of as many historical facts, as there 
were figures and ceremonies exhibited, completed their 
error, and rendered them invincible." His conclusion was : 
" The people in their frantic enthusiasm would have torn 
in pieces any that should dare to deny the history of Osiris 
and Isis." The Neapolitans, in Bomba's days, would have 
done the same to the public blasphemer of the blood of 
St. Januarius. 

The ordinary explanation of the Osiric myth is a solar 
one. The sun, it is said, nightly contends with darkness, 
being slain, as Osiris, the nocturnal sun, by Typhon. But, 
as Horus, the morning sun, it rises from the grave to 
heaven, conqueror over gloom. In his descent in the 
western region to Hades, Osiris is said to be lost. Mariette 
Bey says: "More ancient than Ra himself will be the 
nocturnal sun ; it is he who will symbolize the struggle of 

1 74 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought, 

darkness against day, and good against evil." Dupuis, of 
course, ascribes all myths to the sun. 

Maspero, the Italian Egyptologist, inclines the same 
way. " This daily birth and death of the sun," says he, 
''indefinitely repeated, had suggested to the Egyptians 
the myth of Osiris. Like all the gods. Osiris is the sun, 
Osiris-Khem-Ament, Infernal Osiris, sun of night, is 
re-born, as the sun in the morning, under the name of Hor 
peehroud, Hor child, the Harpocrates of the Greeks. Har- 
pocrates, who is Osiris, struggles against Set, and the Bat, 
as the rising sun dissipates the shades of night. He 
avenges his father, but without annihilating his enemy. 
This struggle, which re-commences each day, and symbo- 
lizes the divine life, serves also as a symbol of human life." 

But the sun appears to die and rise again at the solstice. 
For instance, on our shortest day, December 2ist, the sun 
descends its lowest on the southern side. It is our depth 
of winter, our death of the sun. For three days the sun 
appears to stand still ; that is, rising each morning at the 
same place, without advancing. Then it exhibits sudden 
vitality, leaves its grave December 25th, re-born, and pro- 
gresses upward day by day towards us in the northern 
hemisphere. At the equinox — say the vernal — at Easter, 
the same phenomenon occurs. The sun has been below 
the equator, and suddenly rises above it, to our natural 
rejoicing. It has been, as it were, dead to us, but now 
it exhibits a resurrection. 

Thus it is, as Dunbar T. Heath remarks, '' We find men 
taught everywhere, from Southern Arabia to Greece, by 
hundreds of symbolisms, the birth, death, and resurrection 
of deities, and a resurrection too, apparently after the second 
day ; i.e, on the third day." 

Mr. Fellows, a writer on Freemasonry, sees a connection 
between the Great Pyramid, the sun, and Osiris: Alluding 

The Myth of Osiris. 175 

to the shadow cast on that building, he writes : " Fourteen 
days before the spring equinox, the precise period at which 
the Persians celebrated the revival of nature, the sun will 
cease to cast a shade at mid-day, and would not again cast 
it till fourteen days after the Fall equinox." He, therefore, 
calls the Pyramid " a pedestal to the sun and moon, or to 
Osiris and Isis, at mid-day for the one, and at midnight for 
the other." He adds, " Osiris descended into the tomb or 
hell. The tomb of Osiris was covered with shade nearly 
six months." The initiated are aware that Hiram's body 
lay fourteen days in the grave before being found by the 
mystical Solomon. 

The association with the lunar theory would appear from 
the age of Osiris being 28 years, the number of days for 
the existence of a moon. The lunar mansions, so cele- 
brated in the Ritual are twenty-eight. But the highest rise 
of the Nile at Elephantine was 28 cubits, and Osiris was, in 
one sense, the Nile. The ark or boat of Osiris is a crescent. 
As a-aJi, he is the lunar Osiris. 

The constellations have been held to afford a key to the 
myth. Osiris was declared to be in Leo, as the sun at the 
creation. In the second month, the date of Noah, he was 
said to be in Scorpio. As 0-siris, he is the Siriiis ; though 
Bunsen reads a lunar meaning in Hysiris, son of Isis. But 
he, like Isis, was'myrionymous or thousand-named. His 
twelve companions were supposed to be the signs of the 
zodiac ; like the twelve men who bore his ark, or six 
twelves who conspired, and the same number who carried 
his body. 

The phallic theory has satisfied some others. The emas- 
culation may refer to the feeble action of the sun in mid- 
winter. Lenormant writes : '' In the bas-reliefs of the 
temple of Phite, the first sign of the resurrection of Osiris, 
stretched upon the funeral bier, is the manifestation of 

176 Egyptian Belief and Modern TJiought. 

phallic petulance ; explaining thus under a brutal form the 
doctrine that among the Greeks the image of the omphalos 
gives in a hidden manner." 

The theory of Hiram Abiff may suggest itself to the 
members of the Mystic Craft. It will be instructive for 
them to compare the story of Osiris with the story of 
Hiram, his death, interment, and raising. As the " Orient" 
Freemasons of Paris have removed from their Masonic 
records all references to the Deity, perhaps they and the 
other Continental Freemasons may be disposed to go 
further back than Solomon's Temple, and insert the name 
of Osiris as at first in their mysteries. The wise Herodotus, 
treating of Egypt, could not give the hidden word, when 
clearly referring to Osiris. He only says, " whose name I 
should think it unholy to mention." 

M. Beauregard detects a Nile story ; saying, " All the 
phases of the Nile have corresponding traits in the legend 
of Osiris." While Isis is Egypt, Osiris is the Nile, Typhon 
is the soil naturally, Nephthys is the sand and marshes, 
and Thoth is science, by which the land was redeemed. 
The sexual productive parts always remain in the Nile to 
evidence its fertilizing power. The learned Frenchman 
adds : "The institution of the legend of Osiris is certainly 
much anterior to the historic times of Egypt." 

The nature-myth theory, applied with so much skill and 
poetic feeling to the narratives of the Vedas, has been 
directed to the myth of Osiris. It has been contended that 
there is no religion in either ; that is, nothing to do with 
God, and the man's soul. It is assumed that the first 
priests of Hindoo Aryans, and the earliest teachers of 
E""ypt, were more Homeric than Homer in their inter- 
pretation of the operations of Nature. They observed 
everything with marvellous accuracy, and constructed from 
these sensations a series of " Fairy Tales," of surpassing 

The Myth of Osiris. 177 

imaginative power, which, though only fancifully descrip- 
tive of Nature's laws, were received as inspired records of 

After all, there is truth in what Wilkinson says, that 
" the prominence given to the mysteries and office of Osiris 
in the sixth, and still more in the eighteenth and succeed- 
ing dynasties, were only the fuller development of an old 
doctrine^ The interesting enigma to solve is, what was 
that primitive idea ? 

Creuzer thinks to help the investigation by supposing 
that the Osiric legend was invented to seduce a barbarous 
race from Fetishism. As he discovers fetish worship, the 
lowest form of reverence, among tribes isolated from each 
other, and, therefore, uncivilized, he conceives that wise 
and benevolent teachers, whether from amidst the people 
themselves, or coming from a distance, instituted a worship 
which would form a common basis for the union of villages 
and the constitution of central government. 

In the myth there are several things that arrest our atten- 
tion. The descent of Osiris into the ark on the day and 
month mentioned in Genesis for Noah ; the time of his 
being enclosed there ; his passage over the sea in it by 
the aid of dolphins ; the three days' festival after the 17th 
Athyr ; and again after 179 days, on the 19th Pachon ; the 
rites attending his fastening in the ark ; his persecution by 
Typhon, who is, in a sense, the Deluge ; — all these things 
gave an air of credence to the arkite theory of Bryant, 
author of " Antient Mythology."" As Osiris simply, the 
god was buried on land ; but as Ptah-Sokari-Osiris, he was 
buried in the waters. The Rev. W. Hislop, in his sugges- 
tive book upon the likeness of Rome and Babylon, refers to 
the year's burial of Osiris in the ark, and the year of Adonis 
in Hades, with the celebrated 17th day of the second 


178 Egyptian Belief and Modej^n Thought. 

But Hislop compares Nimrod and Osiris. The mighty 
hunter was termed the " Subduer of the Leopard " ; and 
Osiris, like his prophets, may be seen in a spotted dress. 

As the Invictiis Osiris, his tomb was illuminated, as is 
the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem now. The mourning 
song, whose plaintive tone was noticed by Herodotus, and 
has been compared to the Miserere of Rome, was followed 
in three days by the language of triumph. The priests 
are recorded to have sung a special Song of Love at his 
festival, when geese and cakes were joyfully partaken of. 
Flowers were then strewn upon his tomb. 

Osiris, like Chrishna, was stung in the heel by the ser- 
pent. Josephus was told that he was killed when the sun 
was in Scorpio. Orion, as well as Osiris, was bitten by 
Scorpio. We read, moreover, of Osiris Ophiocephaliis, or 

The dismemberment of Osiris into fourteen, twenty-six, 
or forty-two pieces, has always been looked on as part of a 
solemn mystery. Plutarch, has, of course, a metaphysical 
meaning; viz., '* the distribution of intellectual life into the 
universe by those powers, which partially fabricate and 
proximately preside over mundane natures." Elsewhere 
he describes those lacerations as the " procession of intel- 
lectual illumination into matter." Proclus has the same 

Landseer's " Sabean Mysteries," may incline to the astro- 
nomical view of the myth, when dealing with the dis- 
memberment story, as detailed by Diodorus, who mentions 
twenty-six pieces. Osiris is the constellation Bootes, with 
its twenty-six stars. Landseer says : " The fable of the dis- 
memberment and cutting to pieces of Osiris by Typhon 
alludes to the successive acronycal disappearance of these 
twenty-six stars, which, of necessity, follow each other as 
they sink beneath the horizon." 

The Myth of Osiris. 1 79 

He further notes the number fourteen, another version 
of the dismemberment. "Notwithstanding," says he, 
" that the different degrees of obliquity of the descension 
of the stars of Bootes, or Osiris, in the several latitudes 
of Babylon, Thebes and Saba, occasion the plural set- 
tings not always to consist of the same identical stars, 
yet that in all these places the number of descents of the 
twenty-six stars is constantly fourteen." "Wherever the 
Osirian rites were celebrated, this descension of his stars 
was regarded and lamented as the death of Osiris." 

He shrewdly connects his astronomical theory with the 
phallic element of the Osiris myth and its origination of 
the rite of circumcision, which was, doubtless, as old as 
Osiris himself. Hence he writes, " The phallic festival, 
which forms a subsequent part of the story, I conceive to 
allude to the reappearance of the star so cut off in the 
eastern part of the heavens." 

The Phoenician tale was that Ouranos married his sister 
Ge, the Earth, but was dismembered by his son Chronos. It 
is truly Time that performs a similar work in our own day. 
The demiurgos Dionysus, another Osiris, was murdered by 
the Titans, who first boiled the dismembered parts and 
then roasted them. This led Taylor, the Platonist, to say 
that "distribution of intellect into matter and its subse- 
quent conversion from thence is evidently implied, for 
water was considered by the Egyptians as the symbol of 
matter, and fire as the natural symbol of ascent." 

Modern thinkers, not less than ancient ones, have been 
attracted by the moral and spiritual conceptions involved 
in this myth. 

The Rev. Dr. Oliver, deservedly ranked as one of the 
most distinguished writers on English Freemasonry, 
solem.nly assures his brethren that " the legend celebrated 
the death and resurrection of one imaginary being, to 

1 80 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght, 

whom these devotions were directed to be paid. The 
rites were always solemnized in lamentations, terminating 
in joy." 

The author of " Sirius, apergus nouveaux sur I'origine de 
I'idolatrie," reviewing Osiris and other heathen divine 
heroes, speaks of " god-men of paganism, sons, for the 
most part, of the Supreme God, with whom they wholly 
identify themselves, born of a virgin mother, spreading 
upon earth the benefits of civilization, mediators between 
men and divinity, supreme pontiffs, guides and judges of 
souls in the hells, combating and crushing the spirit of 
evil, and re-ascending to heaven upon the accomplishment 
of their divine mission." 

Elsewhere, in the account of doctrines contained in the 
theology of ancient Egypt, the reader will have further 
particulars of the part played by Osiris, not only as the 
sacrificed and resurrected one, but as the judge in the 
judgment of souls. In that role he was brought very near 
to humanity, and was regarded with awe and fear, though 
not with dread, by good Egyptians. It was his victory 
over sin and death that established his throne in the hells 
as the Judge of the Dead. In all respects we witness his 
complete identification with human interests. As Judge 
Strange tells us : " He appeared on earth to benefit man- 
kind ; and, after having performed the duties he came to 
fulfil, and fallen a sacrifice to Typho, he rose again to a 
new life, and became a judge of the dead." 

Mr. Brown's *' Great Dionysiak Myth " has much to do 
with Osiris, or Uasar, as he calls him. Of the Greek 
Dionysos he says : ^' He is Phanes, the spirit of material 
visibility, the Kyklops giant of the universe, with one bright 
solar eye, the growth power of the world, the all-pervading 
animism of things, son of Semele, 'the beginning of 
nature,' and Harmonia, the starry universe existing in a 

The Myth of Osiris, i8i 

wonderful order. And Uasar is no less." Again : " Uasar 
is described as the egg-born. He is the egg-sprung Eros 
of Aristophanes, whose creative energy brings all things 
into existence ; the demiurge who made and animates the 
world, a being who is a sort of personification of Amen ; 
the invisible god, as Dionysos is a link between mankind 
and the Zeus Hypsistos." 

Isis, or Uasi, is but the female reflection of Uasar. 
"This," says he, "is merely the creating, energising, and 
vital force of nature, conceived under the natural idea of a 
male and female dualism." As Plutarch assures us, " It is 
better to identify Osiris with Dionysos." Both were styled 
" soul and body of the sun ; " both were infinitely manifold 
in nature. 

Of Osiris Mr. Brown writes, " He dies, to live again. 
He wars with aggressive evil, is slain on account of it, and 
finally overcomes it. Amen, the Invisible Father, has 
committed all judgment to him, the suffering and tri- 
umphant Son. And this judgment is necessarily placed 
as occurring in the invisible world." Elsewhere he has 
this eloquent passage : " Solar, astral, phallic, kosmo- 
gonic, chthonian, and psychical — Uasar links together in 
one the various elements of nature and of religious idea. 
He stands between man and the far-off Primal Cause ; and 
when the history of his worship shall be fully known, its 
various phases fully understood, and its marvellous simi- 
larities with the teachings of our own sacred books duly 
appreciated, we shall unhesitatingly assert, with the philo- 
sophic apostle, that " the invisible things of God become 
distinctly visible when studied in the things that He hath 

He will not have the myth a "mere observation of, 
and childlike deductions from, the external phenomena of 
nature " ; but he perceives that " the spiritual and psychical 

1 8 2 Egyptian Belief and Modern TJwtcght, 

element is everyzvJiere predominant^ The philosophical 
Theist who reflects upon the story, known from the Wall 
of China, across Asia and Europe, to the plateau of 
Mexico, cannot resist the impression that no materialistic 
theory for it can be satisfactory. 

After all, the momentous question comes uppermost with 
us all : Has the Osiric myth any relation to 
Christianity ? 

Those of the Dupuis and Strauss schools have no 
difficulty in relegating both to a phase of sun-worship. 
Unfortunately, the corruptions of Christianity during the 
first three centuries — far greater than all during the fifteen 
subsequent ones — gave just ground for such remarks. 
Christ was spoken of in the very terms used towards solar 
deities ; and attributes of a solar character, unfurnished by 
the Gospels, were attached to His name. Constantine, a sun- 
worshipper, who had, as other heathen, kept the Sun-day, 
publicly ordered this to supplant the Jewish Sabbath. To 
make matters worse, the Church, at an early date, selected 
the heathen festivals of sun-worship for its own, ordaining 
the Birth at Christmas, a fixed time, and the Resurrection 
at Easter, a varying time, as in all pagan religions ; since, 
though the sun rose directly after the vernal equinox, the 
festival, to be correct in a heathen point of view, had to 
be associated with the full moon. The Scriptures give no 
authority for anything of the kind. But, having been done, 
the events were made to bear the complexion of the old 

Another explanation of the difficulty has been widely 
accepted. It was said that the Osiric myth was typical of 

On this Sir Gardner Wilkinson thoughtfully says, " The 
existence of Osiris on earth was, of course, a speculative 
theory, — an allegory, not altogether unlike the avatars of 

The Myth of Osiris, 183 

the Indian Vishnoo ; and some may be disposed to think 
that the Egyptians being aware of the promises of the real 
Saviour, had anticipated that event, regarding it as though 
it had already happened, and introducing that mystery 
into their religious system." 

The school to which Professor Piazzi Smyth belongs 
could see no possible difficulty here. They make the 
Pyramid an inspired building. They regard it as a fact 
that the Pyramid taught the whole mystery of redemption. 
They could, therefore, see no objection to the living creed 
of Egypt, though professedly pagan, being a type of that 
which was to come. 

Owen Morgan, the Pontypridd writer on Druidism, asks 
very naturally : " Are these accidental coincidences, or 
was the pagan world favoured with types more literal of 
the advent of the Messiah than the Jews received t " 
Higgins wrote : " Type or no type must be left to every 
person's own judgment. But then the Gentile religion 
must have been a whole immense type. This will prove 
Ammonius right, that there was only one religion." 

At no epoch of history was there such a digging into 
the foundations of belief as now. At no time did men so 
earnestly and so sincerely demand '' What is truth 1 " It 
is in vain, therefore, that we attempt to turn this question. 
A Church, claiming infallibility for its changing, and its 
developing, doctrines, may interdict inquiry. And yet, it 
was by debate in conflicting Councils, and reputed examina- 
tion of evidence therein, though at a time when ignorance 
was great and party spirit strong, that creeds themselves 
were formed and authorized. 

Only in the present day has there been that knowledge, 
that love of fair play, and that truth-seeking for truth's sake, 
so essential in the investigation of ancient myths. Above 
all, though so far down the roll of time, we are more 

1 84 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

capable of understanding them than were the Fathers of the 
Church. Certainly, the spirit of inquiry, however cautiously 
and devoutly exerted, has thrust back the fearful, the God- 
uiitnisting, into the arms of those saviours of society whose 
conceit and self-assertiveness have always established their 

The majority will, perhaps, always object to stand alone 
with their Father in Heaven. 

Mr. W. E. Gladstone, as a Christian scholar, asks, — '' If 
the reviews and facts of the day have in any way shaken 
the standing ground of a Christian, is it not his first and 
most obvious duty to make an humble but searching 
scrutiny of the foundations .''" 

The Osiric story cannot surely be an argument for that 
Materialism, whose close-set column seems marching up 
to the walls of our modern civilization, threatening the 
entrenchments of all belief in the Spiritual, and seeking 
to overwhelm with its dark and cold Necessity all that is 
fair and hopeful with us. 

There is, surely, in the myths, either the faint glimmer 
of a primeval light, or the rosy break of dawn on humanity. 
It was not the awakening of conscience, for that belongs 
to man ; but it may have been the leading upward and on- 
ward to higher perceptions of duty, and the recognition of 
God'Workings in the heart. 

If in nothing else, its presentation of life beyond the 
grave, its consciousness of moral responsibility, and its 
portrayal of Divine participation in our struggles forward, 
will make the myth of Osiris a suggestive one to human 
intelligence, and a comforting one to our frail and wanting 


THE discovery of the holy books of the people may be 
esteemed by many as the most important one during 
the century. It was remarkable that, when able to read 
hieroglyphics, our scholars should be directed to the *' Ritual 
of the Dead," and a collection of books treating so fully of 
matters connected with religion. Though the rubric and 
the text are somewhat mixed up together, the original 
Ritual can be fairly made out. 

By far the most ancient of all holy books, it is pleasing 
to note the absence of that indelicacy, to say nothing of 
impurity, too often meeting the eye in other old Scriptures. 
The earlier Vedas are not irreproachable, though less 
objectionable than the later ones. The moral character of 
a race may be safely indicated by their writings, and the 
character of their gods. 

Like all Scriptures, except the Koran, the Egyptian 
form a collection made at various and, apparently, widely 
separated times. In the " Ritual of the Dead," for instance, 
the latest copies give 165 chapters, while only fragments 
appear in the early dynasties, and but 150 chapters under 
the eighteenth dynasty. 

But all who study these old leaves must sympathize with 
the Queen's Chaplain, the Rev. F. B. Zincke, when he says : 
" I know nothing more instructing and interesting in human 
history than one of these old Egyptian Books of the Dead."^ 
We have several versions of the eisfhteen books. 

There can be no doubt of the high antiquity of parts 
thereof Plato was told that Egypt possessed hymns dating 
back ten thousand years before his time. Bunsen had a 

1 86 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

lofty estimate when he could write : " The origin ot the 
ancient prayers and hymns of the ' Book of the Dead,' is 
anterior to Menes ; it implies that the system of Osirian 
worship and mythology was already formed." But besides 
opinions we have facts as a basis for arriving at a conclu- 
sion, and justifying the assertion of Dr. Birch that the 
work " dated from a period long anterior to the rise of the 
Ammon worship at Thebes." 

The copy of the Ritual at Parma distinctly alludes to 
King Menkeres, the founder of the Third Pyramid. On 
the coffin of Queen Mentuhetp, of the fourth dynasty, there 
are written several chapters, as the 17th, i8th, 64th, etc. 
But it is admitted that the earliest existing copy of the 
Ritual itself on any monument is of the eleventh dynasty, 
B.C. 3000. The oldest preserved on papyrus dates from 
the eighteenth. 

One hymn, at least, is of the Pyramid age. Baron Bun- 
sen, speaking of it, adds : '' We cannot believe that the 
origin of these hymns is of so recent date as that of Men- 
keres, of the fourth dynasty. That king's name is certainly 
mentioned in our book, and a certain prayer is referred to 
him or his time. But the prayer inscribed on his own coffin 
looks more like one taken from a collection similar to that 
which we possess." That particular one of Menkeres or 
Mycerinus refers to souls passing through the gate to 
reach the blue sun at the foot of Thoth. 

The Rev. F. B. Zincke has decided views. " Portions of 
it," he writes, "are found on the mummy cases of the 
eleventh dynasty. But this was very far from being the 
date of its first use ; for even then it had become so old as to 
be unintelligible to royal scribes ; and we find that, in con- 
sequence, it was at that remote time the ride to give to- 
gether with the sacred text its interpretation." 

Brugsch remarking upon the curious pictorial story in a 

Egyptian Bible. 187 

very ancient tomb, says : " Evidently, we have there under 
our eyes an anterior chapter of the Ritual ; sparse pages 
of some unknown, amusing book, almost gay ; which takes 
the deceased during life, accompanies him to his first step 
in death ; a book reserved, under the Ancient Empire, to 
the exterior chambers of the mastabas, as the Ritual is 
consecrated to the pits." 

As the Law of Israel was once so nearly extinct, that a 
copy discovered in the Temple excited the greatest astonish- 
ment and concern in the king, so certain portions of these 
Egyptian Scriptures were lost through neglect, and others 
were recovered by accident. 

Thus, an annotation tells us that the text of chapter 130 
was " found in the pylone of the great temple under the 
reign of King Housap-ti, ever-living, in discovering the 
hypogeum of the mountain (pyramid }) which Horus had 
made for his father Osiris Oun-novre, (good being), ever- 
living." This king, says M. Deveria, is the Manetho one of 
Ousaphais, fifth king of the first dynasty. The Secretary of 
the Society of Biblical Archeology tells us : " This work 
may be almost certainly traced back to the reign of 
Hesepti, of the first dynasty, according to Lenormant, 
whose era is B.C. 5004 ! " 

At the end of the 64th chapter of another copy, an 
Egyptian priest has written : " This chapter was found at 
Hermopolis, written in blue upon a cube of bua-ges under 
the feet of the god. The royal son Har-doudou-y found it 
there in the time of Menkara, everliving, when he journeyed 
to make an inventory of the temples." This interesting 
and successful manuscript hunter, like Petrarch so much 
later, sought for such relics amidst the cloisters of ancient 
religious edifices. 

It is, then, most impressive to listen to Deveria's con- 
clusions : " Thus — not only under the reign of Men-ka-ra, 

1 88 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

the builder of the Third Pyramid, but even under the 
fifth king of the first dynasty, certain parts of the sacred 
book were already discovered, as antiquities, of v^'hich the 
tradition had been lost!' 

If this be so, and it is hard to contradict the French 
scholar, portions of the Egyptian Bible may have been 
luj'itten seven thoiisand years ago. 

To Dr. Lepsius of Berlin, not less than to Dr. Birch of 
London, are we indebted for translations of this wonderful 
" Ritual of the Dead." The first called it the Todtenbuc/i, or 
" Book of the Dead " ; the other ''The Departure from the 
Day ;" euphemistic for Death. 

The most perfect copy, that from which the German 
translated, is at the Turin Museum, where the writer had 
the great pleasure of inspecting it. It covers one side of 
the wall. Though in four pieces, it may altogether measure 
nearly three hundred feet in length. The breadth of the 
papyrus is from twelve to fifteen inches. Parts are, how- 
ever, incomplete or obscured by age. The ink is black or 
coloured, and quite different from the wretched stuff used 
in our own day, and warranted to fade in a few years. It 
is covered with a multitude of illustrations, beautifully and 
delicately executed. They are so small, that from twenty 
to even fifty figures may be discovered in a foot of the 
paper. The writing would delight an accomplished pen- 

Thereon one seems to have the whole Egyptian theology 
at a glance. Though there is every reason to believe the 
greater part of the people were at least as well educated in 
reading as Europeans at the beginning of this century, yet 
the perpetual pictorial display could not fail to be instruc- 
tive to those unable to make out the text. The Scriptures 
must have been zvell knoivn, as copies of chapters are found 
by the thousand on the persons of mummies themselves, 

Egyptian Bible. 189 

and on the walls of the thousands of tombs, which would 
not have been the case were the living majority unable to 

The book is called by Deveria '' Code of existence in 
the other world"; a most expressive title. But it may 
be properly divided into two chapters of teaching. One 
relates to the Litany of the Sun, and the other to funeral 
ceremonies. The latter consists, says Birch, "of certain 
religious formulae, consisting of prayers and formulae 
ordered to be said by the priest, or inscribed upon the 
coffin and amulets deposited with the dead.^' These, he 
thinks were certainly collected by the twelfth dynasty. 

The Ritual has been subject to some changes, especially 
under the Saites. There are extant precious specimens, 
done under the eighteenth dynasty, which form an edition 
de luxe. Copies multiplied under the New Empire after 
the eighteenth dynasty. It has been supposed that other 
chapters were in later years added to the one hundred and 
sixty-five forming the text of Turin. In ancient illustra- 
tions, as has been said, "Anubis puts his arm over the 
dead to make him live. Nephthys calls on him to awake, 
and Isis brings vital breath and brings the north wind of 
Toum to his nostrils." 

The first chapter, as C. Lenormant remarks, "opens with 
a grand dialogue scene, which takes place at the moment 
of death." The deceased knocks at the gate of hell, the 
Amenti, asking humbly of the gods of Hades for admit- 
tance. A choir of glorified spirits, like the chorus of Greek 
tragedies, support his petition. The priest on earth adds 
his efi"ective entreaties. Osiris is then represented saying : 
" Fear nothing in addressing thy prayers to me for the 
eternal duration of thy soul." Upon this arises the first 
prayer. The hymn to the spiritual sun comes when the 
soul is dazzled at the sight of it. 

1 90 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

We will now take a glance at the " Ritual of the Dead," 
mainly relying upon the careful text of Dr. Birch. 

In the beginning, as throughout, there is a deal of mys- 
ticism. Thus : " O, bull of the West, says Thoth, king 
eternal, I am the great god." " Hail, dweller in the west, 
Osiris!" The first chapter is headed thus: ''The tomb, 
the threshold of the other world." 

The 3rd chapter has an address to Toum, the setting 
sun. The 8th says, " The hour opens, I shut the head of 
Thoth, the eye of Horus instructs." In the 9th we read. 
'' O soul ! greatest of things created, let the Osiris (de- 
parted) go." The loth declares, " I came forth with 
justification against my enemies." 

The 13th chapter is a short one, consisting of these 
words : " I went in as a hawk, I came out as a phcenix. I 
have made me a path. I adore the sun in the happy west. 
Plaited are the locks of Osiris. I follow the days of Horus. 
A path has been made for me. Glory, glory to Osiris ! " 

The 14th speaks of "obliterating all the stain which is 
in the heart "; and of the "corruption of the dead " being 
"wiped out of his heart." The 15th has some grand 
passages addressed to the solar deity ; as, " Hail, O sun, 
lord of sunbeams ! — Hail, O sun, creator, self-created ! — 
Thou shinest at dawn ; thou followest thy mother Nu, 
directing thy face to the west." 

The 17th chapter is decidedly of an esoteric character, 
and is, by authorities, deemed one of the oldest portions 
of the Egyptian Scriptures. A copy of it was found 
on a coffin of Queen Mentuhept, of the eleventh dynasty 
(B.C. 3000, or 1500 years before Moses). What is very 
satisfactory to observe is, that the question of authenticity 
is simplified by our finding that ancient copy agree with 
the text of the one at Turin, though about two thousand 
years later. 

Egyptian Bible. 191 

Baron Bunsen has some important remarks upon this 
portion : " It is not at all probable that this hymn is the 
most ancient text of that sort, or even of our present col- 
lection. There are many texts of greater simplicity, which 
are probably more primitive. This is studiously obscure 
and mysterious, and conveys rather the impression of a 
comparatively recent period. The unintellectual, barbar- 
ous and superstitious mode of jumbling together text and 
scholia into one undivided, unintelligible mass, may have 
been more practised at a considerably earlier date than the 
eleventh dynasty." 

Some extracts from this 17th chapter will testify, at 
least, to the obscure and mysterious elements : — 

" I am the great god creating himself It is water, or 
Nu, who is the father of the gods. Let him explain it. 
The sun is the creator of his body, the engendered of the 
gods, who are the successors of the sun. I am the great 
Phoenix which is in Annu (Heliopolis). I am the former of 
beings and existences. Let him explain it. The Bennu 
(Phoenix) is Osiris, who is in Annu. The creator of beings 
and existences of his body ; or, it is eternity and ages. The 
age (aion) is the day ; eternity is the night. — I am Khem 
in his two manifestations. — Rustra is the southern gateway, 
Anrutf is the northern gateway of the abode of Osiris. (The 
constellation of the Thigh, or Great Bear)— I am the soul 
in two halves. Let him explain it. Osiris goes into Tattu; 
he finds the soul of the sun there. One and the other are 
united. He is transformed into his soul from his two 
halves, who are Horus the sustainer of his father, and Horus 
who dwells in the shrine ; or, the soul in his two halves is 
the soul of the sun, and the soul of Osiris, the soul of Shu, 
the soul of Tefnu, the souls who belong to Tattu." 

A few more passages from this wonderful chapter may 
be added : — 

192 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thotight. 

" O sun, in his ^gg. — Save thou the Osiris from the god 
whose forms are mystic. His eyebrows are the arms of 
the balance. — Save thou the Osiris from the god stealer of 
souls, annihilator of hearts living on filth.— O Creator, 
dwelling in his birth, forming his own body, or forming 
his own body eternally ! Save thou the Osiris (the dead) 
from those who are the guardians and judges placed by the 
Lord of spirits, as he wishes to guard his enemies. The 
embodied mystery of the gift of concealment is my name. 
The white lion clawing the head is the phallus of Osiris, or 
the phallus of the sun. He who plaits his hair and directs 
his face to the gate of his path is Isis in her mystery. She 
is coiling her hair there. The worst of them whom I have 
touched are the associates of Set." 

Chapter 18 is "The book for performing the Days." 
In the 1 8th are the names of gods or guardians in the 
"Region of Awakening and Activity." The i8th, 19th, 
and 20th relate to justification before the fourteen deities 
of Hades. The 19th chapter directs men to repeat the 
chapter praying. Its seeming Evangelical character has 
excited attention. One portion runs in this way : " Osiris, 
who dwells in the west, has justified thy word against thy 
enemies. — He is justified against Set and his associates. — 
Horus, the son of Osiris, repeats this millions of times ; all 
his enemies fall down stabbed." 

This alludes to the sort of atonement and mediatorial 
work of Osiris. He defends the soul of man against all 
accusers, and triumphs over the spiritual forces against 
man. The same chapter contains the formula for the 
Linen of Justice, or wrapper of the dead ; saying, " Pro- 
nounce this chapter upon the new linen for the use of each, 
whilst you put incense upon the flame for the Osiris 
N ." (name of the deceased). The formula follows: — 

"Words of the Osiris N . Offer to thy father 

Egyptian Bible. 193 

Atmou the beautiful Linen of Justice (justification), fol- 
lowing the rite of life that pleases the gods. Thou shalt 
live eternally. Osiris, judge of the Amenti, I will justify 
thee against thy enemies. Thy father Seb will remit to 
thee all his power, giving thee the strength of destruction 
in giving thee the nourishment to justify Horus." 

Chapter 20 relates to the treatment of a body in the 
process of embalming, in relation to the linen cloth and 
the bandelette fastenings. It orders, " Pronounce this 
chapter upon each, after being purified by the water of 
natron (used in embalming), he will appear at the light, at 
the moment of approach, he will make all the transforma- 
tions (in Hades) he wishes, he will be manifested in splen- 
dour by the effect of the Linen of Justice divided into 

Chapters 22 to 26 relate to the presentation of various 
parts of the mummied body. In the vignette of the 24th 
the deceased is addressed thus: *'I am the Creator, self- 
created on the lap of his mother." It is styled, "The 
chapter of bringing the mind of a person in Amenti" 
(Hades). The 25th is upon a person giving his name in 
Hades ; chapter 26th, on giving his heart. 

From the 27th to the 42nd we learn how the deceased is 
to be kept from the malice of Typhonian animal forms 
in Hades. In the 27th one cries out, " Do not take this 
heart." The vignette of the 28th shows the deceased in 
the act of adoring a heart— the symbol of life. In the 
30th, after mentioning the sacred scarabeus on the breast, 
it IS stated : " My heart was my mother. My heart was 
my being on earth, placed within me, restored to me by 
the chief god." This is one of the many acknowledgments 
that eternal life was the gift of God. 

The 31st is a record of infernal tormentors. ''Stop!" 
ejaculates the frightened soul ; ''go back ! Back, crocodile, 


194 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

from coming to me." A similar appeal is made, In the 
33rd, to bad animals. The entire chapter is this: "O 
walking viper, makest thou Seb and Shu stop. Thou hast 
eaten the abominable rat of the sun, thou hast devoured 
the bones of the filthy cat." The Illustration of 35 shows 
the deceased struggling to keep back a serpent. The 
chapter Is headed : " How a person avoids being eaten in 
Hades by snakes." 

The serpent story is continued in 39. Reptiles are 
there depicted being turned back. The dead person refers 
to Apophis, the bad serpent : " The Apophls is over- 
thrown. — Their cords bind the South, North, East and 
West, — The Apophis and accusers of the sun fall. Over- 
thrown is the advance of the Apophis." In the 40th, the 
deceased is seen spearing a serpent on the back of an ass, 
the emblem of Typhon. 

The 42nd is an interesting chapter. The poor fellow 
has passed the crocodiles, serpents, etc., and thus celebrates 
in song his triumph : " My hair is that of the celestial 
abyss ; my face, that of the sun ; my eyes, those of 
Athor." This may mean that his emancipated members 
were preserved by divine power, and belong to the gods. 
Another passage speaks of the hair like Nu (Nout) ; the 
face like Ra ; the eyes, Athor ; the lips, Anubis ; the 
teeth, Selk ; the neck, Isis ; the elbows, Nelth ; the belly. 
Set ; the phallus, Osiris ; the thigh, eye of Horus ; the 
feet, Ptah, etc. The fourteen members of the body are 
declared under seven deities and the twelve zodiacal gods. 
But he lives, in spite of being devoured by the monsters ; 
as it Is finely said in the Ritual, "there is not a limb of his 
not as a god." 

Repose follows conflict. Netphe, or Nout, pours upon 
him the Water of Health, refreshing his soul, and, as it 
says, '* permitting him to recommence his journey in order 

Egyptian Bible. 195 

to reach the first gate of heaven." In 43 one learns how 
to avoid decapitation in Hades ; and, in 46, to keep from 

In 52 is a warning against the eating of filthy things in 
Hades. One, also, says, " Thou hast brought these seven 
loaves for me to live by, bringing the bread Horus makes." 
Heavenly food is described in 53. The sail symbol for 
the breath of life is introduced in the 54th. The prayer is, 
** O sun, give me the delicious breath of thy nostril. (Life 
the divine gift.) I am the ^gg of the great cackler (Seb). 
I have watched this great ^g'g. — I have given breath to the 
youth." In 58 the waters of Nu descend on the deceased 
from the holy sycamore. 

The 63rd treats of the drinking of the water. The lan- 
guage is decidedly mystical : " O, Bull of the West ! I 
have come to thee. I am the boat-hook of the sun, by 
which he leads the old or the feeble. I do not burn. I 
am Aat, the eldest son of Osiris, the type of evil god is in 
his eye in Annu " (Heliopolis). 

Chapter 64 is particularly good, and was extensively 
used. It is described by C. Lenormant, as "one of the 
most beautiful and grand in the funeral Ritual." It is, 
nevertheless, very obscure. " It is a great mystery," it 
declares of itself; "one neither sees nor hears anything 
besides in repeating this pure and holy chapter. Approach 
women no more. Eat neither flesh nor fish. Put there a 
scarabeus cut in stone, enshrined in gold, on the heart of 
the individual ; after having made a phylactery soaked in 
oil, recite magically below, 'My heart is in my mother, 
my heart is in my transformations.' " It is further said : 
" If this chapter be known, he will be pronounced ever- 
living in the world of the Kerneter." 

The prayers in chapters 65 to 70 are helpful in the 
underworld progress. As Dr. Birch observes : '' He (the 

196 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

deceased) continues to advance, illumined by that new light 
to which he addresses his invocations. He then enters a 
series of transformations, in which he is raised little by 
little, reclothing the form, and identifying himself with the 
most elevated divine symbols." This may be the re-in- 
carnation, the transmigration, or any other way of soul 

In 71 the seven mortal sins, still retained in Europe, are 
mentioned and dwelt upon. The difficulties of escape from 
earth into Elysium occupy several chapters. How to pass 
the gate of the setting sun is given in 72. Others describe, 
as from 81 to 90, the forms assumed by the deceased. He 
is a hawk, a heron, a swallow, a crocodile, a goose, a lotus, 
a serpent, etc. The metamorphoses are described from "j^ 
to 90. The " Book of the Manifestation to Light " includes 
from I to 16, and from 54 to 75. 

But 89 introduces us to a fresh doctrine, involved in the 
account of the visit of the soul to its body, at the earnest 
request of the deceased. Here Dr. Birch remarks : "After 
these transformations, the soul comes to re-unite itself to 
his body, which has now become necessary to him for the 
rest of the journey. It is for this reason that care in the 
embalmment is so important ; the soul must find his body 
intact, and well preserved." 

The Egyptians believed, as St. Paul did afterwards, in 
body, soul, and spirit. Something, of the form of the body, 
but not the body, dwelt awhile with the mummy, though 
afterwards leaving it. Birch calls it " an image, an appear- 
ance of his body which remains extended on the funeral 

Pictures of the soul, as a bird, flying back to the corpse 
are common. The Ritual declares : " If this chapter is 
known, his body does not perish, and his soul has never 
departed from his body for millions of times." It is styled, 

Egyptian Bible. I97 

" Chapter of the re-union of his soul to the body in the 
burial place." 

According to 90, the soul comes to the region of Thoth. 
From that wise deity he receives a book of instructions to 
guide him for the rest of his journey. Did we not know 
that this '' Book of the Dead " was unrevealed a few years 
ago, we might be tempted to think that the author of 
'' Pilgrim's Progress " had perused it. 

From 91 to 93 the story of his coming to the river is 
told. That water separates him from the Champs Elysces. 
The voyage to the East is narrated in 65. He is sorely 
tried there. A boatman offers his services to ferry him over. 
But the soul of the dead is favoured with divine illumina- 
tion to show that this fellow had been sent by Typhon, and 
would carry him eastward instead of his westward course. 
Twice, but unsuccessfully, does the demon Charon try to 
pitch him into his boat. At length the true pilot appears. 
After a severe examination, to test the dead, he professes 

The deceased now enters the boat of the sun. Charon 
asks him, "Tell me the name of the stake by which to 
anchor the boat".? The dead replies, "The Lord of the 
worlds in his dress is thy name." The second question is, 
'' Tell me the name of the mallet ?" The answer comes : 
" The enemy of Apis is thy name." The last is, " Tell 
me the name of the rope.?" and "the knot attached to 
the stake.?" The soul mystically says, " Anubis, in the 
circumvolutions of the place, is thy name." 

Crossing the heavenly Nile, he gains the Elysian Fields. 
He comes to the Valley of Anoura or Babot. This is said 
to be 366 perches long by 140 cubits wide. The spirit 
lord of the locality is a certain crocodile, living at the east 
end of the valley. A serpent, thirty cubits long by ten 
round, coils up at the head of the valley. A lake is to the 

198 Egyptian Belief and Mode^ni Thought. 

south ; but the waters of the primordial matter lie to the 

It is in this charming vale that the dead engages in 
agriculture, toiling in the pleasant fields to raise food 
for the soul. 

Chapters 1 10, etc., detail life in Elysium, after a fashion 
well known to us moderns, in the communications of sup- 
posed spirit friends. 

The dead gets into a little bother when plunging about 
in the celestial Labyrinth. But good Anubis, the guardian, 
comes to the rescue. This he does by the Rosamond 
Bower system of a thread. He seems in and out of Hades 
from 117 to 124. 

Chapter 125 describes the "Last Judgment." Particu- 
lars of this scene are detailed elsewhere. Mr. Birch sup- 
poses the chapter to have connection with '' masonic 
mysteries." No one can doubt that Free-masonry, Phre or 
Sun masonry, existed B.C. 4000, if not much earlier ; but 
the chapter admits certainly of other interpretations, as its 
narrative runs pretty parallel with the 25th of Matthew. 

In the 125th we read of the Roll on the breast. It is 
stated of the deceased there : " He is perpetuated to his 
children's children. Bread, wine and flesh are given to 
him off the altars of the great god. He is not divided from 
the empyreal gateway of the Lord of the West. He is in 
the service of Osiris for millions of periods." 

After this we are introduced to other subjects, having 
safely landed the soul at the Haven of Rest. Chapter 126 
shows four apes in the boat of the sun conducting souls to 
Osiris. An address to the sun is in 127 ; and to Osiris in 
128. From 130 to 138 the soul is in the sun's boat to 
adopt measures by which to avoid the dreaded Sccona 
Death in Hades. The book, " Passage to the Sun," includes 
from 130 to 140. 

Egyptian Bible. 199 

By 142 the dead learns the sixty names of the gods ; by 
144, the names of the seven stairs ; and by 145, the pylons 
or gateways of Hades. In 148 he learns how to please the 
celestial sun. But 149 is very mystical. The fourteen 
Halls of Hades, and the House of Osiris, are there de- 
scribed. The ten regions of the damned are explained, and 
the cries of the sufferers are heard. The 151st is a myth 
of Osiris; and the 153rd is an account of a net for the 

Chapter 154 is called ''Not letting the body pass away 
or decay." In it there is this announcement : " Its soul 
comes forth after death, it follows after it passes away." 
In 161 the eyes of the sun, the Disk, ox Hypokephalaia may 
be known. The mystical eyes are described in chapters 
162 to 165. 

The latter portion of the Ritual is most mystical, par- 
ticularly when the dead is identified with the sun, and its 
course in the heavens. "Then," as M. Lenormant says, 
" he is raised by degrees in epoptism to the contemplation 
of, and identification with, a symbolical figure, who unites 
the attributes of all the divinities of the Egyptian Pantheon, 
and a representation of whom terminates the work." 

One chapter is oddly enough closed by a rubric about 
writing upon the throat of the dead, in order to make it 
glad of good things there. In one place the names of the 
eight gods of Amenti are given ; — " Lord of fire " — " Lord 
of the tomb " — " Goodbirth " — " Lord of terrors in hearts " 
" Lord of the lower heaven " — " Fine form " — " Greatest " 
— " Perfection of things." 

The mysterious door to another life is thus described : 
" This great door of the region of Neter-xer (funeral place) 
which is mysterious for men. The souls know not the 
road. Those who are among the dead attain it not. It is 
that by which the sun passes to see the two worlds in the 

200 Egyptian Belief and Modern TJwught. 

region of Ag'er." Hence the dead is directed to call upon 
the guardians thereof, " Open to me your gate that I may 
be master." After this he gains admittance. 

About one portion it is said : " Let this chapter be read 
on earth. It should be painted on the coffin. He will come 
out any day he likes, and go to his place without being 
turned away. There is given to him bread and drink, and 
slices of flesh off the table of the sun, when he peregrinates 
the fields of the blest ; corn and barley are given to him, 
for he is provided for as he was upon earth." This shows 
that the conception of the other life was that it was simply 
a continuation of this. 

There are several Holy Scriptures. One is the " Book 
of the Lower Hemisphere;" another, the "Book of the 
discourses of the Supreme God ;" a third is the " Book of 
Respirations"; a fourth describes the " Migrations of the 
Soul ; " a fifth is called the " Book of five days which re- 
main of the year;" a sixth is the " Book of Manifestations ;" 
a seventh, a " Book of what there is in the Lower World," 
etc. — Among Assyrian books are the Book of Mamit, 
Book of Worship, Book of Explanations, Book of Going to 
Hades, and Mr. Talbot speaks of two lost Assyrian books 
of prayers, the Kanmagarri and the Kanmikri. The Kan- 
talite was a lost Assyrian Psalter. 

"The Book of Respirations" refers to the breathing of Isis 
upon the dead body of Osiris to restore it ; to the respira- 
tion "which," says Deveria, " accompanies the return to life 
in all new birth or renovation of being." The celebrated 
five days have details of many combats. Several of the 
books bear upon re-incarnation, or the changes experienced 
by the soul. In the " Book of Respiration " we read : " To 
drink Truth, to eat Truth, to accomplish all the transfor- 
mations which are agreeable to him to vivify his soul." 

Egyptian Bible, 201 

The " Book of Manifestations to the Light " describes 
the passage of the soul after death. It gives prayers, offer- 
ings and hymns to gods, serpents, genii, scarabei, etc. 
Liturgies abound in the books. 

The " Book of the Lower Hemisphere " is said to be the 
" Book of that which is in the Lower Hemisphere." It 
represents the passage of the divine boat of the sun 
through the twelve hours of the night, or lower hemisphere. 
The names are given to the several genii in charge of the 
twelve Houses or Hours, the gates, and the inhabitants. 
Some few particulars of this curious book are obtained from 
the translation by M. Deveria. 

The First Hour of the night passed by the nocturnal 
sun has the pleasant name of Us'em-t-ha-t-u-xeut-a-Ra. 
The field, or locality, is described as being 309 aten long, 
and 120 broad ; its name is Ntemara. 

The Second Hour is S'esa-t-mah-t-neb-s. The field 
is 309 by 120 aten in extent. The gods of the Hour have 
the appellation of Bau-Sabau, souls of the lower heaven. 

The Third Hour is Det-en-sam-ba-u. The field is 
the polysyllabic Nte-na-nebs-ua-xoper-vu-t-a ; meaning, 
water of the only Lord. The gods or spirits in charge are 
the Baa-stela-u, or the mysterious souls. It is stated in 
the text that "He who knows their name on earth is raised 
toward the place where Osiris is ; water is given to him in 
this field." 

The Fourth is Ur-em-sexemu-s, or ''great by posses- 
sion." The locality is Anx-xeperu, life of transformations. 
The gate of the place is Ament-setau ; the " knowledge of 
this," we are told, " is the way of the mysteries of the reign 
of Ro-sat." 

The Fifth is Semi-t-her-hat-t-uau-s, or "that which 
passes to the middle of his boat." The gate is Aha-neter-u, 
or station of the gods. The reader learns that '' their me- 

202 Egyptian Belief and Modern ThoiLght. 

tempsychoses take place at their hours; their transforma- 
tions are mysterious." " One cannot make known, nor see, 
nor understand this myth of Horus." 

The Sixth is Mes-pri-t-ar-nt-mau, and the field is 
Ua-u-nte-uax-n-Ra, or " Route of the sun's bark." It is 
affirmed that "this myth of the mysteries of the lower 
heaven is not known to any human being." 

It is in the SEVENTH HoUR that the great struggle 
takes place between Osiris and Apophis, the serpent, when 
the latter is wounded. The darkness is on the decline in 
this hour. We hear of " the mysterious way of Ament 
(Hades), where the great god (the sun) ascends in his 
bark." The '^ Conqueror of the Grave " is said to advance 
through the influences of Isis, who aids in repelling Apo- 
phis in his attack upon the sun. The Great Serpent, Ha- 
ber, 450 cubits long, and which supports the earth, is then 
introduced to the reader. The monster fills the whole 
lower heaven with his mighty folds. It is said there are 
those on earth who drink not of the waters of this serpent 
Ha-ber. The name of the seventh hour is appropriately 
called Xesev-t-hauk-heseq-n-ha-ber; meaning, "that which 
wounds the serpent Haber." 

The pictures illustrating the book are as mysterious as 
the writing or legends accompanying them. 

Seven gods are seen seated ; and the legend is, " Be 
attentive — fulfil your functions near Osiris — adore the lord 
of the western regions." Twelve female forms stand with 
their arms hanging down, and near them it is said, "Their 
action in the inferior heaven is to raise Osiris, and quiet 
the mysterious soul, by their own words. These are the 
conducting goddesses." There is the prow of a boat on 
which the god Ap-her-u is being borne by twelve gods 
with poles or oars ; of whom it is declared, " Their action 
in the inferior heaven is to conduct the sun towards this 

Egyptian Bible. 203 

locality each day ; " and, "Adorers of the lord of the solar 
disk, they cause the birth of the soul in its transformations, 
by their mysterious words, each day." This is, perhaps, the 
spiritual meaning of these solar manifestations. 

Another picture shows a human-headed bird on a basket, 
a mummy ram on a basket, a cow, etc. The legend is, 
" Those that are in this composition, in this locality, are 
the dispensers of the food of the gods which are in the 
inferior heaven. The god sun orders this food for them ; 
these gods mount with that great god to the eastern horizon 
of heaven, when he distributes the meats of the gods of the 
lower heaven." 

One needs the symbolic nature of an Ezekiel to under- 
stand such mysterious language. But we pass over some 
of the hours. 

The Tenth Hour is Dendi-t-uhes-t-xah-het-u. In 
this region of the west the god Xeper joins Ra, the sun, 
through the door Ax-xerpu. There are canals there, as in 

The pictures here are curious. There are four lion- 
headed goddesses, with a sceptre deity. The sun's disk is 
being supported by two serpents erect between two seated 
goddesses. Four gods stand with sceptre and cross. One 
only has the head of a man ; the second, of a jackal ; the 
third, of a hawk ; while the fourth has two jets of blood 
rising from between his shoulders. Of these four it is said, 
"They gather together the mortal enemies— they break 
the substance of the impious." 

Then there is the god Av, having a viper in his left 
hand and the cross in his right, while standing on the 
serpent Mehen. Av means yZ^j-// ; and Deveria remarks 
that this "symbolizes the evolutions of the substances 
which are born to die and to be re-born." This is another 
way to describe re-incarnation. 

204 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thotight, 

There is an elongated serpent in a boat, with a cross by 
his mouth, meaning terrestrial life. Four gods, having 
disks for heads, and carrying a javelin over the shoulder, 
are thus addressed by the souls : *' Wound for me my 
enemies which are in darkness." Four goddesses stand, 
with the viper symbol of eternity on their heads ; of whom 
it is recorded, '' They enlighten the way of the sun in the 
absolute darkness." 

A hiero-cephalic god, disk-headed, is seen directing his 
lance against a number of human bodies, submerged in 
various attitudes in some liquid. Deveria remarks : "Here 
commences the punishment of the Egyptian Hell." In 
Hermes Trismegistus one reads : " They are where light is 
submerged in the abyss." 

The Eleventh Hour of night is Sebi-t-neb-t-ouaou- 
xeov-sbau-m-per-v ; which means, " Lady star of the bark 
who repels the wicked by his appearance.'" 

On the first register of this we see a two-headed god, 
with cross and sceptre, — life and power. Near him is a 
disk-headed one, with wings for arms, and a four-legged 
serpent behind him, holding a cross in its mouth. A 
goddess is seated upon a viper (eternity), before a constella- 
tion of six stars. Upon the second register there is the 
divine boat, fastened to the tail of the serpent Mehen. 

The Twelfth Hour is the " mysterious region of the 
inferior heaven." The name of the place is Xepcr-t-keken- 
s-atat-u-mes-t-u ; meaning " Production of darkness, rise 
of births." The great god is born in it. He goes out of 
the abyss, and re-unites himself to the body of Nu-t. This 
may mean the re-union of spirit and matter, once divided. 

Twelve goddesses are seen standing, while serpents are 
casting; fire from their mouths. The rubric statement is : 
" The first flames of the mouth of their vipers repel Apo- 
phis far from the sun-god at the eastern station of the 

Egyptian Bible. 205 

horizon." Twelve men are drawing the divine bark ; and 
it is said, *' This myth is the mystery of the serpent of 
divine life/^ 

The serpent Na, 1300 cubits long, is pulled along by 
twelve men who have a rope fastened to the creature's 
jaws ; and the legend says : " The devotees who are in his 
devotion go forth from his mouth each day/' Four gods, 
by an upright serpent, stand for the four elements, — " male 
and female of terrestrial nature," — waiting on the rising sun. 
S'on is there ; god of universal equilibrium and conductor 
of the stars in the upper hemisphere. One figure shows 
only his head and arms, the body being supposed below 
the horizon. 

The sun, of course, rises in the twelfth hour, being "born 
from himself." The "way of absolute darkness " is said to 
be that of the sun during the twelve hours' night. 

The Egyptian Scriptures, while containing so many dark 
sayings, have rules of life for man on earth, as well as 
lessons for his guidance after passing the mystical Jordan. 


THIS very important subject can only be glanced at in 
this volume. In the present revival of symbolism we 
recocrnize old Egyptian and Assyrian forms with much 
interest. The introduction of these idolatrous symbols into 
Christianity began in very early days, and would justify 
the Ritualists of our times in the resuscitation of them as a 
part and parcel of Primitive, though not Apostolic, Christ- 

It is true that, as symbolism formerly led men to idolatry, 
there is the same danger now of bringing anything, priest 
or symbol, between the man and his God. 

The learned Mosheim ignorantly asserted : " The Egyp- 
tians had no meaning in their symbolic theology." Lenor- 
nant calls symbolism " the very essence of the genius of 
^ the Egyptian nation, and of their religion." Stukely 
correctly says : " The first learning of the world constituted 
chiefly the symbols. The wisdom of the Chaldeans, 
Phoenicians, Egyptians, Jews — of all the ancients — is 
symbolic." Our present chemical symbols, the sun, moon, 
cross, triangle, etc., are of religious origin. The Cambridge 
Christian Advocate, Mr. Hardwick, writes : " Symbol was 
a species of primeval language ; the symbolic institutions 
were the illustrated and illuminated books, in which the 
early generations of the human family might learn the 
rudiments of true religion." De Briere takes a lower plat- 
form : " The emblems borne by the gods have a phonetic 
value. A sign expresses, also, correlative ideas." Thus, a 
scarabeus means father and son ; a bee, king and people ; 
a hawk, high and low. 

Symbolic Religion. 207 

Bishop Durandus, of Mende, in France, wrote on sym- 
bolism in 1220, popularizing the subject. But the learned 
Jesuit Kircher bothered himself and others in the attempt 
to interpret ancient signs. He was particularly luminous on 
the Isiac Table of Egypt. Montfaucon expresses general 
opinion in these words : " Upon this plan he (Kircher) has 
written a commentary of such a prodigious length, and 
with an obscurity equal to that of the Table itself They 
that will be at the pains of reading his book will confess 
it to be an original, and that no Egyptian thought as he 

Abbe Pluche, rather off his head on sun-worship, had, 
also, some original notions on Egyptian symbols. His work 
was first translated in 1740. He thought the head-dress 
of Osiris with the two feathers meant God dispensing the 
seasons. A winged sun was the god of the air. The disk 
and serpent meant the author of life. The hawk referred 
to the north wind ; the hoopoe, to the south wind ; the 
sphinx, to superabundance by inundation ; the cross, to 
measuring ; etc. 

The Greeks were poor interpreters, in spite of their sup- 
posed poetic sentiment. Dr. Barlow says : " The Greeks, 
by not caring to ascertain the symbolical value of animals' 
heads, came to treat the gods of the Egyptians with very 
little respect. Wit here took the place of wisdom, and they 
sought to turn into ridicule what they did not care to 
understand." Dr. Crucifix, the much respected Freemason 
chief, more philosophically remarks, that " to preserve the 
occult mysticism of their order for all except their own 
class, the priests invented symbols and hieroglyphics to 
embody sublime truths." 

Clement of Alexandria boldly avowed : " The symbols 
of the Egyptians are like those of the Hebrews." He 
alluded to temple ornaments, priests' garments, sacrifices, 

2o8 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

and rites. M. Portal wrote on " Symbols of the Egyptians 
compared with those of the Hebrews." Some, like Mel- 
ville, the mystic writer of " Veritas," would refer both to 
one source, — Astronomy. 

Julian the Apostate, a wise and moral, though deluded 
man, has a very suggestive word upon symbolic stories. 
" Each of these narratives," says he, " unless it is a fable 
containing an arcane theory, which I think is the case, is 
full of much blasphemy toward Divinity." Emerson was 
of opinion that " a good symbol is a missionary to convince 

In entering upon this branch of Egyptian theology, the 
writer would direct the reader's attention to the symbolism 
described in other parts of this work, especially on the sun, 
serpent and animals. 

Some of the less important Egyptian symbols may first 
be briefly noticed. A rising star meant new birth ; a vase, 
extent ; a feather, truth ; the uraeus snake, royalty ; a collar, 
virility ; a circle on a line, time ; a hatchet, the Divine 
Father ; a seal, reproduction ; a zigzag ornament, the water 
of life ; a shell, the resurrection ; a lighted lamp, the soid ; 
a wheel, energy ; a comb, woman. A parasol, says Deveria, 
was the symbol of soids, or some corporeal emanation. 
The Hut, or sun's disk, was good fortune. The Hout was 
the winged sun ; supposed to represent Providence. The 
staff uas was life. 

The twenty-six varieties of coiffures are clearly symbolic. 
The urceus, or asp, projecting from the head, is said to be 
derived from ouro, royalty. The hydria was a water 
pitcher. The panther skin on a pole was an emblem of 
Osiris, and may mean celestial. The Sacred Nests are 
ornamental squares containing hieroglyphics. 

The knots, referred to in the Ritual, chapter 156, were 
the ves, or a^nplexce, and meant vital force. They differ in 

Symbolic Religion. 209 

appearance. Some are a winged circle, with twisted legs ; 
others look like a wire twisted loosely round an upright 
rod. They are found on coffins and the canopes for the 
entrails. A writer thought the cross or crux ansata itself 
was but a form of the knot The author of " Serpent 
Mythology" says, "A knot is the union of two objects, in 
this instance the embrace or knot of love in generation, 
from which life results, the marriage tie or knotr It is 
certainly the symbol of the principle of life. 

The sash buckle, or ta, round the mummy's neck is 
another symbol of life, also mentioned in the 156th chapter. 
Another ribbon or tie was the shcs. The seal may have 
meant eternity, or periodic time. A signet of authority, it 
was a promise of eternal life. The askJi, ousekh, or collar, 
the investiture of a functionary, was a religious token. 
The hatchet showed power. The atef, or crown of Horus, 
represented the. two truths. It had two feathers, a tall 
white cap, with ram's horns, and the urseus in front. The 
meaning of the cBgis is not apparent. It was a sort of 
necklace, not dissimilar to that worn by the Druids. The 
pschent, or double crown of Lower and Upper Egypt, 
denoted the presence of Divinity in life and death, in 
heaven and hell. The red crown, north, is wide, and has 
a curl ; the white crown, south, is a white mitre ; together 
they form the pschent. The basket of the Nineveh eagle- 
headed Nisroch was, perhaps, unknown in Egypt. 

Another life symbol was the sail. A full sail is held in 
the hand of the god Schu. It represented vital air, or the 
transmigrative power of the soul to move from place to 
place of itself The Cup of Immortality is often an urn, 
corresponding to the amreeta in the hand of Vishnu. The 
heart was then the symbol of eternal life. Pierret com- 
pares it with the scarabeus ; saying, " The heart principle 
of existence and of regeneration was symbolized by the 


2 10 Egyptian Belief and Modem Thought. 

scarabeus." Chapters 26 to 30 have much reference to 
the heart. The arched lute or tJicrbo was the symbol of 
goodness. The ouabsh was the white crown of Upper 
Egypt ; and the tcs/w, or red crown, of Lower. The sym- 
bol vicna is not understood. 

The zita or oiita is the symbolic eye of Horus. The right 
one was the sun ; and the left, the moon. " The out'a," 
says Mariette Bey, " appears thus to signify the resplendent 
end of the period of justification through which we shall 
pass in order to be admitted to the bosom of the supreme 
God." This is the right eye of Horus, or cow of Hathor. 
AVorn as a pectoral, it preserved the body from decay. 
The eye oudja meant the moon or health. Macrobius says 
of the 7ita, " This emblem of Osiris, is it not that of the sun, 
king of the world, who from his elevated throne sees all the 
universe below him ? " The crescent has descended to us 
from Egypt. The Assyrians called it Menon, the husband 
of Semiramis, whose name meant the dove. The pschent 
and bee were symbols of Upper and Lower Egypt. The 
sacred beads were the ransu. The ua was the holy boat ; 
the sJiaa, a linen cap ; the raa, steps ; the noUy an iron 
instrument sacred to Anubis ; the hab, a hand plough in 
the hand of statuettes ; the vieiiat, or counter-weight, sacred 
to Athor. 

The broad arrozv of England v/as an ancient Egyptian 
and Druidical symbol. It was the mark of solar rays, or 
Divine providence. The JiypocepJialiis, representing the 
pupil of one of the mystical eyes, was a favourite symbol. 
Sometimes it bore the figure of gods upon it ; as, Amoun 
Ra, the cow of Hathor, etc. One in the Cairo Museum is 
eight inches in diameter. The cone, or omphalos, typified 
means of generation, terrestrial and celestial ; the goddess 
Isis is seen sitting on one. A pointed cylinder, rather than 
a cone, with a ring or band, is held as a sceptre, and is 

Symbolic Religion. 2 1 1 

common as an amulet. The cone was sacred to Cybele. 
Its woody inflammable nature, adapted for torches, iden- 
tifies it with the phallic fire. 

Osiris has a headdress whose hyperbolic curve was a 
symbol of eternity. His staff or sceptre, concoiipha or tias, 
originated the modern crosiers. His senb, or simple crook, 
was held in the hand on monuments of the twelfth dynasty, 
and is regarded as the sign of a healthy and peaceable life. 
It is the lituiis or augur's baton. It is called on papyri the 
" birth of the living Horus." A god is often seen seated 
on its summit. The staff may have on the top a bird's 
head, or other ornament. His flail, whip, flagellum, or 
nckhekh, is called by Dr. Pritchard a van or winnowing 
instrument ; Denon styles it a scourge. It symbolized his 
role as judge. His holy boat, or ark, is elsewhere noted. 

Colours were symbolic. Whatever Mr. Gladstone may 
say about defective colour in Homer, all who see the 
paintings of Egypt acknowledge the excellence of colour 
thousands of years before Homer. Durandus considers 
the sacred colours to be white, red, black, green, violet, 
and saffron. Blue was holy with Egyptians and Hebrews. 
Black, denoting Hades, marked some figures : as Osiris, 
Isis, and Hathor, as Christna in India, and black Madonnas 
in Europe. Red may mean divine love, as white is 
wisdom, and blue is spirit. The Logos was gold colour, 
as seen in Apollo and Baldur. Cneph was blue, like the 
Virgin, and Amoun was green. Siva of India is red. 

Eggs were hung up in the Egyptian temples. Bunsen 
calls attention to the mundane ^%g, the emblem of gener- 
ative life, proceeding from the mouth of the great god of 
Egypt. The mystic ^gg of Babylon, hatching the Venus 
Ishtar, fell from heaven to the Euphrates. Dyed eggs 
were sacred Easter offerings in Egypt, as they are still in 
China and Europe. Easter, or spring, was the season of 

2 T 2 Egyptian Belief and Modern TJwiLght. 

birth, terrestrial and celestial. It is not more wonderful 
than that IHS should be found on a coin of the Maharajah 
of Cashmere, and eggs be suspended in mosques. 

The Tat was a favourite symbol. It is found on all 
sorts of things, and formed a common amulet with Egyp- 
tians. Usually, it is an upright standard, widening towards 
the base, and having four bands or cross pieces near the 
upper part. Cooper calls it a stand with four shelves. 
Generally plain, it may occasionally be found highly orna- 
mented. Some have a diadem ; others have a human face, 
or something like a flower at the top. The cross and Tat 
together formed a pretty ornament. One, put on a 
pedestal, has a cubit, the symbol of truth, standing in front 
of it. It is of all materials — stone, wood, metal, earthen- 
ware, enamel, etc. 

What the Tat meant has puzzled the learned. Two 
centuries ago Dr. Cudworth wrote concerning the god 
Thoth, " This is he who is said to have been the father of 
Tat." Many supposed it, from its shape, to represent the 
Nilometer : and by that name it was usually known. One 
author sees in it " a sort of altar of four tables (or steps) 
whose mysterious sense is not explained." It is not a little 
remarkable that the Tat should be seen accompanied by 
the four Genii of the Dead, or the four gods in charge of 
the remains. Dr. Birch, one of the most careful of all 
authorities, speaks of it thus : " The four horizontal bars 
of the emblem represented the four foundations or estab- 
lishments of all things." It was associated with Osiris ; and, 
as our Museum writer shows, " Osiris Tat, or Osiris con- 
sidered as the Established, or emblem of stability in all 
things. Osiris is the Tat established. The Tat crowned 
with the atf, so peculiar to that god, completes the alliance 
with Osiris, and proves itself the emblem of stability, or 
the lasting." The pillar ttrs was used, also, as an amulet. 

Symbolic Religion. 213 

There are solid tats of stone two or three feet high. It was 
the emblem of Ptah. The Osiris-Tat meant the resident 
in Amenti or Hades. 

Geometrical figures had their significance. The circle 
was the sun and infinity. The square, in a phallic sense, 
was the union of the two principles of creation — masculine 
and feminine. It gave the idea of completeness or perfec- 
tion. The ameni were amulets shaped as a carpenter's 
square. The hyperbolic curve was infinity, as the lines 
appearing to approach went forward. The ellipse was 
sacred, as the shape of the ^gg. The cartouche was the 
oval of the sovereign's name. The cone was often a head- 
dress, and was used at certain ceremonies. 

The triangle was a religious form from the first. It is 
to be recognized in the obelisk and pyramid. The five- 
pointed Solomon's seal of the mystics was known ages 
before Solomon. The pentagram is a triple, triangle. The 
six-pointed figure of triangles is the hexalpha. The tetra- 
grammaton of the mystical Jewish Essenes, of Alexandrian 
faith, was the celebrated three in one. The triangle upright 
represents to this day fire ; downward, zvater ; upright, 
with a bar, air; downward, with a bar, earth; upright, 
with a cross suspended, stdphnr ; with the cross on the 
summit, phospJiorns. The upright triangle embodies the 
masculine idea, as the downward the feminine. To this 
iday, in some Christian Churches, the priest's blessing is 
[given as it was in Egypt, by the sign of a triangle ; viz. 
'two fingers and a thumb. An Egyptian god is seen with 
a triangle over his shoulder. This figure, in ancient Egypt- 
ian theology, was the type of the holy Trinity — three in 

Though some of the symbols found by Dr. Schliemann 
at his assumed Troy were in use by Egyptians, others, as 
the tops and volcano-like figures, have not been recognized. 

2 14 Egyptian BeheJ and Modern Ihottght. 

The sun and rays, the cross, etc., were there ; but the odd, 
owl-headed vases, so abundantly dug up at Troy, even at 
the depth of forty-six feet of debris^ were absent by the 
Nile. Rude as the figure is, we detect the boss with a 
cross inside for the navel, two marks above for breasts, and 
the eyes with the prominent owl beak at top. Professor 
Conze says that the " symbol preceded the figure " of 
]\Iinerva or Athena. The only likeness to it is the hawk- 
headed Ra ; but that is masculine, while the Trojan symbol 
is distinctly feminine. 

Some musical instruments were symbolic, and appropriate 
to religion. 

The sistrum, the ssesh, or kemkem, held the first rank. 
Usually of bronze, it was occasionally of silver or gold. It 
v/as of an open circular or oval form, provided with a 
handle. Wires passed through holes in the slight frame 
across the open to the other side. At the ends of these 
loose wires were pieces of metal, that jingled when the 
instrument was shaken. It was, in short, a rattle. On the 
top was commonly a figure of Isis or Hathor, or an animal 
form, as a cow or cat, to personify the goddess. 

The wires were, three or four in number. Plutarch, who 
witb Greek confidence professed to understand Egyptian 
symbols, says that the shaking of the four bars within the 
circular apsis represented the agitation of the four elements 
within the compass of the world, by which all things are 
continually destroyed and reproduced, and that the cat 
sculptured upon the apsis was an emblem of the moon. 
That philosopher evolved a good deal from his own inner 
consciousness. Apuleius talks of the sistrum in his amusing 
" Metamorphoses." He describes it as a bronze rattle, 
having a narrow plate curved like a sword belt, through 
which passed a few rods that rendered a loud, shrill sound. 
It is still used in Abyssinia, where it is called the sanascl^ 

Synnbolic Religion, 215 

and Is of service, when duly shaken by the Christian priest, 
to drive devils from the neighbourhood. There can be very 
little doubt but that this was the purpose in ancient Egypt, 
though always held in the right hand of a priestess. The 
size seems to average from nine to eighteen Inches. 

Of the antiquity of the sistrum there can be no doubt. 
One, ornamented with the head of Hathor, was taken from 
a tomb near the Great Pyramid, that must have been about 
6000 years old. On a funeral tablet of a priestess we see 
her officially arrayed. Rouge says of her : " This lady 
holds a sistrum, Insignia of her charge." Another memorial 
mentions the deceased as the sister of the High Priest ; she 
Is clothed In a semi-transparent robe and holds the sistrum. 
The bars across the opening would be distinctly the 
symbol of virginity. The goddesses to whom the Instru- 
ment was dedicated, though always mothers, were ever 
virgins. The sistrum was, therefore, the symbol of the 
Celestial Mother. 

The bell was another sacred Instrument ; though not so 
reverenced In Egypt as It became afterwards In the farther 
East, especially in China, Slam and Burmah. It was not 
from Egypt, but from the Chinese side, perhaps, that we 
Europeans obtained our bells. Moscow, an essentially 
Asiatic city, was ever renowned for bells. On the defeat 
of the Russians by the Swedes at Narva, Peter the Great 
ordered all the bells of the country to be rung, that the 
Evil One might be driven away. Chinese records of bells 
go back to B.C. 2000. Assyria was strong In bells. Layard 
found there eight small ones In a caldron ; they were from 
I J to 3i Inches high, having a hole in the top. 

It Is very curious that In Ireland bells may be seen 
ascribed to St. Patrick or other saints, which. Instead of 
being circular, have a rude parallelogram form. And Carl 
Engel, the authority on national music, tells us that " the 


2 1 6 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought . 

oldest Chinese bells known had not, however, the round 
form of the present ones, but were nearly square." This is 
but one of the many illustrations of the old connection of 
Ireland with the East. Some writer declares that the first 
use of church bells in Europe was by Bishop Paulinus, at 
Nola, in the Campania of Italy, about the year 400. 

Egyptian bells, duly inscribed, were put upon horses ; as 
in Assyria, and as mentioned in Zechariah xiv. 20. They 
were placed also upon the dresses of priests, bordering 
their garments ; as, in the Aaronic priesthood afterwards, 
small golden bells were upon the extremity of the High 
Priest's robes. Those obtained from the ruins are of bronze, 
and small in size, only a few inches high. They appear to 
have had clappers. Carl Engel reports that it " appears 
probable that the bells were employed in religious obser- 
vances for a somewhat similar purpose as the sistrum." 

The Egyptians certainly used bells in magic to drive 
away the unpleasant company of fiends. One bell was 
discovered with a most hideous face of the evil Typhon 
upon it, and was rung to keep honest folks here and in 
Hades from his power. The Bacchus bell was similarly 
useful. We still toll the bell at funerals. 

The Cross symbol was most popular in Egypt. 

This venerable emblem of Life Eternal has been bowed 
to not only in Egypt, but in Babylon, India, China, Mexico 
and Peru. The Spanish padres were as much astonished 
to find the cross in America, as other missionaries have 
been to discover it in other as unlikely places. Its reten- 
tion by Christians, though exciting the wrath of Puritans 
for its idolatrous associations, is an acknowledgment of the 
power of habit in old symbolism. The masses used it and 
loved it. The Fathers of the Church, after resisting awhile, 
allowed the continued adoration of the ancient symbol. 

Symbolic Religion, 217 

though directing it to a fresh object and another faith. It 
is still the symbol of life with Coptic, Nestorian, Greek, 
Romish, Lutheran, and, now, Anglican Christians. It 
wields an enormous influence yet, and is a bond of brother- 
hood. Vainly has it been assailed, for its popularity seems 
as great as ever. As it comforted the Egyptian to press it 
to his lips, and lay it upon the corpse of his beloved dead, 
so does it speak of peace and hope to many now. 

The Puritans of the first three centuries, especially 
those of Jewish origin, with a natural horror of idolatrous 
emblems, steadily resisted the invasion of the cross among 
believers. Thus, we hear Minutius cry, " We neither 
worship nor wish for crosses." The Emperor Julian 
ridiculed Christians ; saying, " Ye worship the wood of the 
cross, painting figures thereof on the forehead, and before 
the doors." Cyril had to apologize for the marking of the 
cross on the forehead. The prophet Ezekiel saw the 
worshippers of the Syrian Venus do it in his vision at 
Jerusalem. Jerome speaks of Helena " prostrate before 
the cross she worshipped, as though she saw the Lord 
hanging thereon." Protestants have been mistaken in 
their notion of the novelty of cross worship. 

Tertullian was very decided in his orthodox views of this 
subject, though reputed heretical enough on other grounds. 
He endeavours to prove that the very heathen derived 
their symboHsm from the cross of Christianity ; or, it may 
be, the ancient relio-ions foreshadowed it. " Yet how doth 
the Athenian Minerva," quoth he, " differ from the body of 
the cross t and the Ceres of Pharos, who appeared in the 
market, without a figure, made of a rude stake and a shape- 
less log } — The origin of your gods is derived from figures 
moulded on a cross. All those rows of images on your 
standards are the appendages of crosses ; those hangings 
on your standards and banners are the robes of crosses." 

2 1 8 Egyptian Belief and Modern Though 

In that spirit he saw Jacob crossing his hands while blessing, 
as " representing Christ in a figure." 

Many Christians at the present day argue as Tertullian 
did. The cross worshipped by Egyptians six thousand 
years, or longer, ago is now declared to be an inspired 
emblem, to teach them in a type the coming death of 
Jesus. But others think it strange that Thebes and Babylon 
should have been favoured above Jerusalem, and that the 
inspired emblem was invisible to the seraphic Isaiah and 
the Psalmist David. 

The Tau or Tj was a very ancient form. The triple 
tan is accepted by Freemasons as their sacred key, though 
what lock it fits may not now be known to them. The 
tan with a circle at the top for a handle makes the ordi- 
nary cntx ansata in the hands of Egyptian gods. But it 
was no less the symbol of the Babylonian Baal and 
Phoenician Astarte. A variation of it gives the cross rising 
out of a heart. Anu, the king of the gods in Nineveh, boro 
a Maltese cross, which is more distinctly Canaanitish and 
Peruvian. The crux pattce, a favourite medieval cross, is 
the suasika of India ; and was used by Etrurians, by the 
Druids, as well as being found fifty-two feet down in the 
debris of Troy. The rose-croix of the Rosicrucians, origi- 
nating the rose of cathedral windows, was known in Egypt 
and in Greece. 

The ankh of Egypt was, says Mrs. Jamieson, the crutch 
of St. Anthony and the cross of St. Philip. The Labarinn 
of Constantine, called the cross and p, was an emblem 
long before in Etruria, etc. Osiris had the Labarnm for 
his sign. Horus appears sometimes with the long Latin 
cross. The Greek pectoral cross is Egyptian. It was 
called by the Fathers, " the devil's invention before Christ." 
The enix ansata is upon the old coins of Tarsus, as the 
Maltese upon the breast of an Assyrian king. Captain 

Symbolic Rehgion. 219 

Warren found a Latin cross on a Phoenician vase far down 
below modern Jerusalem. The cross and Calvary, so 
common in Europe, occurs on the breasts of mummies. 

The cross was extended toward an Egyptian worshipper, 
as the writer saw it done after service by the priest in Russia. 
It was suspended round the necks of sacred serpents, and 
worn by Egyptian ladies as an ornament, like as in India, 
Greece and Rome, Certain sects in India have now a 
cross marked on the forehead with red paint. Such appears 
to have been the practice by the Nile, as in Ezekiel ix. 4. 
Strange Asiatic tribes, bringing tribute in Egypt, are noticed 
with garments studded with crosses ; Sir Gardner Wilkinson 
dates the picture B.C. 1500. Typhon, the evil one, is 
chained by a cross ! On the seat of one of the old Hycsos, 
or Shepherd Kings, is found the cross. The triple tan of 
the Buddhists is a changed form of the Pope's triple cross, 
or the well-known Russian cross. The very sign of the 
planet Venus is still a crux ansata. 

What was the original meaning of the cross .? 

Some regard it as merely a Nilometer, or measure of the 
rise of the Nile. It was natural that so useful a sign should 
become an object of worship. Such a moveable crossbar 
upon an upright pole in the river might well symbolize 
Life. Wilkinson writes : " The early Christians of Egypt 
adopted it in lieu of the cross ;" the Copts still have it. 
Volney makes much of the Nilometer. 

A Bishop of Clogher thought it merely "a setting stick 
for planting roots." Baring-Gould regards it as a sign of 
regeneration by water. 

Wilson's " Solar System of the Ancients " recognises it 
as representing the Law of Gravitation. An upright tan 
he calls the symbol of velocity and distance ; but a T ^^?^> 
of time and distance. Seeing it in the tombs of primi- 
tive Saqqarah, and in the primitive Sphinx temple, he 

2 20 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

believes in the ancient civilization and learning of the 

Don Martin called it a winnowing fan ; and Herwart, a 
compass. The theologico-astronomical notion is presented 
by the Rev. J. Williams, M.A. : "At the vernal equinox 
the sun passed, as it were, with the souls of the dead from 
hell (south) to heaven upon a cross ; for his passage traced 
through the holy sign upon the equator. On the Egyptian 
zodiac, where it comes in contact with the equator, the 
cross is actually represented." Pococke advanced the 
Plutarch notion of the four elements for it. 

The phallic theory has been argued by many authorities. 
Pauw, Lacroze, and Jablonski urged it of old. One spoke 
of the triplasian phallus of Horus. The cross, it was 
said, was the masculine symbol in one direction, and 
feminine in the other. The author of " The Great Dionysiak 
Myth" speaks of the " handled cross, which phallically repre- 
sents the combined linga and yoni." Simply a phallus, it 
became, by the union of the circle or feminine symbol, as 
in the crux ansata, the representation of divine energy in 
conjunction with passive matter. It thus becomes the 
lingam-yoni of India. But Dr. Barlow had the thing upside 
down, when he said that " the crux ansata was derived from 
the lingam-yoni, with a handle attached to it." Elsewhere 
he cites a tradition that " the tan or cross is believed to 
have been the mark which the children of Israel made on 
the door-posts of their houses, by order of Moses." 

After all, the cross may be simply a key. It opened the 
door of the sacred chest. It revealed hidden things. It 
was the hope of life to come. In the obscure but learned 
work of Henry Melville, "Veritas," — explaining the laws 
of the Medes and Persians — the uninitiated may possibly 
obtain further light. 

However well the cross fit the mathematical lock, the 

Symbolic Religion. 221 

phallic lock, the gnostic lock, the philosophical lock, the 
religious lock, it is quite likely that this very ancient, and 
almost universal symbol, was at first a secret in esoteric 
holding, to the meaning of which, with all our guessing, 
we have no certain clue. 

The Ark, or sekett, was the sacred chest or box, and 
the ai^a or altar. It was also the Argha, Argo, Baris, 
Theha ship, or tia boat. It was the ark or ship of Juno, 
the ship of Isis, the urn of Osiris. We see eight gods 
pulling along the sacred vessel. The sacred urseus was in 
front of the ark. 

The Egyptians had an ark proper, or holy box. This ^ 
was carried by priests with staves going through rings, as 
is described in the Jewish ark. Mr. Samuel Sharpe, the 
able Egyptologist writes : " We see that an ark of the same 
size as the Jewish ark was carried upon men's shoulders 
in the sacred procession." Such a procession was on the 
Nile, round the temple, or in the street. 

In the " Biblical Archeological Transactions," a genuine 
repository of learning, is an account of an ark-shrine in 
Japan, having some curious resemblances to the ark of the 
Egyptians. It is like a miniature temple. The wooden 
square cella has an overhanging roof In the Shintoo 
arks, belonging to the older religion of the country, but 
now re-established over Buddhism, there is no image of 
Deity, but the sacred emblems of a sword, a mirror, and a 
jewel. The mirror clearly refers to the sun. T\\^jezvel is a 
slender wand, with cut paper about it, but whose meaning 
is not known. Birds, like doves, are upon the roof; though 
the cock, a solar symbol, adorns the top. The ark, called 
the tenno-sainas, is carried in procession. Arks are still 
borne in procession on men's shoulders in the Himalayas. 
An Afghan tribe, the Beni-Israel, also have wooden arks. 

2 22 Eoyptiaii Belief and Modern TliottgJit. 

Mexican gods were taken in a box on the priests' shoulders. 
The ark was so borne in the rites of Diana, Ceres, etc., as 
well as of I sis. The Palladium of Troy was a statue of a 
god in an ark, and he who looked within was struck mad. 
Homer's ark was the cJielos. 

The ark, too, was a boat. Plutarch says that the ark of 
Osiris was of a crescent shape. The god stood upright in the 
ark, as Aswarra did in the Argha. The Jiannu was the 
barge of Sekar. In the first chapter of the Ritual, ThotH 
is reported saying : '* I am the chief workman \yho made 
the ark of Socharis." Thebes had a sacred boat, 300 
cubits long. The word Thebes is said to mean m-k in 
Hebrew. Count de Gebelin's "Monde Primitif," 1777, 
derives Paris from Baris, the ark of Isis, substituting / for 
b. The monument of Isis and her ship, executed in the 
time of Tiberius, was discovered below some part of Paris, 
in 17 10. The Egyptian ark, according to Clemens of 
Alexandria, contained only the phallus of Bacchus, that is, 
of Osiris. An ancient writer declares it held cakes, wheat, 
wool, a rod, a serpent, and an apple. King's " Gnostics " 
informs us that the ark of Isis " carried the distinctive 
marks of both sexes." 

The meaning of this symbol has puzzled many. Bryant, 
with the majority of writers, sees in it a memorial of Noah's 
Ark, and the safety of the eight persons ; though he says, 
" The moon and ark were synonymous terms." But he 
supposed the Egyptians " esteemed the ark an emblem of 
the system of the heavens." Abb6 Guerin de Rocher is so 
confounded with the parallel, that he declared his belief 
that, as Cambyses destroyed the Egyptian record, Herodotus 
and Manetho prepared their books as a travesty of Jewish 
Scripture. Bryant's "Mythology " admits that '* the ark was 
certainly looked upon as the womb of Nature, and the 
descent from it as the birth of the world." He considered it 

Symbolic Religion. 223 

*' was prophetic and' was looked upon as a kind of temple, a 
place of residence for the Deity." Some called it mystica 
Vannus laccJii. Egyptians knew not of the Deluge. 

Further notices of the ark appear in " Sex Religion," and 
the '' Myth of Osiris." 

The Chenibirn of the ark would form another parallel. 
Bauer wrote : " The cherubim was not first used by Moses, 
since the Law speaks of it in a manner it would not do, 
except on the supposition that it was already known among 
the people.^' Hengstenberg affirms it of Egyptian origin. 
The " Bible Educator" says: "The external likeness of 
some of the Egyptian arks, surmounted by their two- 
winged human figures, to the ark of the covenant, has 
often been noticed." Winged figures were common in 
Egyptian temples, as well as in Assyria. As these were so 
very ancient, it is not as the authoress of " Mazzaroth " 
supposed : " From the cherubic faces most of the idols 
of the heathen can be shown to have originated." The 
cherubic animal forms are well known ; especially the 
Scarabeus with extended wings, the symbol of the resur- 

The Urim and Thummim formed an interesting me- 
morial of Egypt. They were the Tzvo Truths. Two figures 
of Re and Thmei were worn on the breastplate of the 
Egyptian high priest. T/mte, plural thmin, meant trntJi in 
Hebrew. Wilkinson says the figure of Truth had closed 
eyes. Rosellini speaks of the tJunei being being worn as 
a necklace. Diodorus gives such a necklace of gold and 
stones to the High Priest when delivering judgment. The 
Septuagint translates Thummim as Truth. 

Smith's " Dictionary of the Bible " gives Lights and 
Thummim, or Light and Perfection. "They are mentioned," 
it says, '* as things already familiar both to Moses and the 
people, connected naturally with the functions of the High 

2 24 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

Priest, as mediating between Jehovah and his people." 
" KaHsch thought they were the twelve tribal gems, upon 
looking on which the High Priest got into a sort of ecstasy, 
or divine illumination, to direct his reply. So thought 
Lightfoot. Mr. Proctor, the astronomer, thinks the Jewish 
idea "derived directly from the Egyptians." Philo, the 
Jew, distinctly affirms that they were the two small images 
of Revelation and Truth, put between the double folds of 
the breastplate. 


THIS Is but symbolism, according to some ; animals 
being, from certain peculiarities, or from supposed 
peculiarities, typical of religious sentiments, or Illustrating 
divine attributes. Zoolatry, or worship of animals, mostly 
prevailed In Lower Egypt. But, as elsewhere said, it was 
better to raise creatures to deities than degrade gods to 
beasts. Lenormant thinks the Egyptians, "instinctively 
averse to the Idolatry of other nations, preferred to pay 
their worship to living representatives of their gods rather 
than to lifeless images of stone or metal, and they found 
these representatives in the animals chosen as emblems of 
the idea expressed by the conception of each god." 

Others, like Porphyry, and similar Greek mystics, allege 
that the respect paid to animals arose from belief in the 
transmigration of souls. If man after this life passed into 
the body of one or more of the lower animals, it was 
natural that a particular interest would be taken in such. 
But as it was never clear what creatures, if any, would be 
thus selected for a residence, metempsychosis does not 
account for the worship of certain orders only. 

Creuzer and several other writers contend that it was 
but the expression of a worship of nature. With no recog- 
nition of the intellectual godhead, but with a belief only in 
what they saw and heard, the ancients were said to bow, 
for what reason is not stated, to external nature, and that 
they honoured certain animals as the embodiment of certain 
natural phenomena! 

Plutarch cannot see that there can be anything more 


2 26 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

absurd In the worship of an animal, than of a stone or stone 
image, as the outward expression of an idea of Divinity. 

The Greeks and Romans, however, made great fun ot 
it, and ridiculed the Egyptians for putting heads of animals 
upon their gods' shoulders. Juvenal exclaimed, " What 
monsters mad Egypt can worship." As Roman and Greek 
writers failed to make anything out of their own thirty 
thousand deities, they might spare reflections on neighbours. 
Clemens Alexandrinus, in his zeal for Christianity, and in 
his ignorance of symbolic religion, thus laughs at the ex- 
hibition in an Egyptian Adytum, or Holy of Holies : — 

*' But when you enter this sacred enclosure, and are 
anxious to see that which is most worthy of contemplation, 
enquire for the image of the divinity that dwells in the 
temple. Perchance, a shrine-bearer, or some other minister 
attached to the worship that is performed there, looking 
extremely grave, and singing a hymn in Egyptian, draws 
aside the veil a little, so that the god appears. But, instead 
of worshipping him, you burst into a hearty laugh. Instead 
of the god whom we were so anxious to see, we behold a 
cat, or a crocodile, or a common snake, or some such foul 
creature, altogether unfit to be in a temple, and only in their 
places in dark holes and mud. Behold the god of the 
Egyptians ! a beast, reposing on a piece of purple tapes- 
try ! " 

When the writer was in Moscow, he was favoured with 
the sight of some relics in a Christian church, which were 
shown with a similar parade of gravity and veneration ; 
and which, however symbolic, scarcely seemed worthy of 
their gold and jewelled cases, and the awe with which they 
were regarded. A pious Catholic humbly prostrates him- 
self before the wooden Bambino, at Rome ; but he may 
no more think that to be his god than did the shrine-bearer 
while he sang his hymn to the cat. 

Animal Worship. 227 

The Ram is associated with the primitive god, Ammon, 
the ram-headed. Thebes was the high seat of the ram- 
worship. The sheep was sacred at Sais. The animal could 
not be eaten by the inhabitants. The ram-idea is gener- 
ative force and vigour, as illustrated in creation. 

The Goat, sacred to Khem, the creator, is a symbol 
similar in object to that of the ram. Pan, as half a goat, is 
the phallic deity, and means the same thing. Azazel, the 
goat, was banished to the wilderness. Mendes was the high 
seat of goat worship. 

The Cat worship is very much more recent than that of 
most animals. Many thousands of cats have been found 
embalmed in the grottoes of Beni-Hassan-el-Aamar. Bu- 
bastis had the chief cat shrine. It was the symbol of the 
moon, its eyes expanding and dilating in the pupil, like as 
the moon waxes and wanes. The cat's ability to see in 
darkness, as generally imagined, sanctified it as the em- 
blem of primitive chaotic night. A cat suckling her young 
symbolized growth. The cat was devoted to Bast. The 
cat is styled the destroyer of the sun's enemies. 

The Mole was supposed to be blind, and to love the 
subterranean ways of gloom. In this aspect it represented 
the darkness that was before the creation of light. 

The Cow was sacred to Hathor, the Egyptian Venus, 
and to Isis as the universal mother. It appeared with a 
disk upon the head of the image. The mystical cow of 
the 163rd chapter of the Ritual was Aurauaakarusaank. 

The Weasel, whose liver was thought to diminish as 
the light of the moon grew less, was a lunar animal. 

The Hippopotamus Ta-tir stood for a Typhonic or evil 
divinity, and was more an object to be prayed against than 
prayed to. Its temple was at Papremis. Naville calls it 
the emblem of impudence. Set took the body of a red 

2 28 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

The Shrewmouse, or Mygale, sacred to Latona at 
Atribis, to Sekhet at Bubastis, to Horus, etc., was, for 
certain not very obvious reasons, a symbol of destruction, 
or the disintegrating operations of nature. 

The Ass was not held in much respect, as it was devoted 
to Typhon, the evil one, and had a temple at San. Still it 
carried the ark at times, and even headed processions 
where the cross was not carried first, as it bore a cross upon 
its haunches. The dead in Hades revenge themselves on 
it, by spearing it or its ghost. It attended on Baal-Peor, 
being libidinous. Its office is not quite understood. Chap- 
ter 40 reads, "Thrust back the eater of the ass." The 
vignette is the serpent devouring an ass. Eraton, the 
Dionysiak ass, may be Set, the ass-god. 

The Lion was associated with Ra, the Sun, and with the 
inundation of the Nile. It was the emblem of the god- 
dess Sekhet, and was connected with Horus, who stood upon 
a lion. Leontopolis and Heliopolis had temples in its 

The Pig has played an important part in several myth- 
ologies, and figures in Croyland Abbey porch. As Set, 
the evil god, changed himself to a pig when he tore out 
the eye of Horus, the Egyptian had no love for the animal, 
though using it to tread in his corn seed. As a Typhonic 
emblem, it came in some processions. It had, too, some 
mysterious relation to Osiris and Isis. 

The Ichneumon and Rat were more feared than hon- 
oured, as they represented destruction. In the Egyptian 
Scriptures, the rat seems the enemy of the sun. Its wor- 
ship or adjuration took place at Heracleopolis. 

The Ape, Hapi, occurs in all religious processions ; and 
cynocephali or ape-headed gods are frequently apparent. 
The cynocephalus, simia /lanmdryas, is properly a dog- 
headed baboon from Ethiopia. Hermopolis was its sacred 

Animal Worship. 229 

city. It was sacred to the lunar deities of Thoth and 
Chons, while Mat-tuat was the ape-god. As a figure 
entire, it is seen in squatting attitude, holding the oiifa, or 
eye of Horus symbol in one hand, and a cross in another. 
The tail is a long one, and the phallic development is 
generally prominent. Some hold that it is the symbol of 
rest or equanimity, being the equinox ; as such, it is seated 
upon the standard of the balance of the Judgment. The 
animal had active duties to perform at the final judgment, 
being a sort of messenger, and sometimes employed to 
drive the bad souls to their prison, as well as keep the four 
corners of hell. It is engaged in operations connected with 
learning, from its symbolizing Thoth, the god of wisdom. 
Ra is the ape of the empyrean, and the apes, as the Ritual 
says, " make salutation to thee (Ra) with their arms." Isis 
is shown riding on an ape. 

The Hare has been a sacred animal in many lands. It 
was so not only in Egypt and Assyria, but among the 
Druids. In parts of Africa its flesh is still abhorrent to 
the natives. It embodied the most mysterious of all attri- 
butes of deity, the hermaphrodite, the especial type of the 
Demiurgus creator. Ancient naturalists were not acute 
observers; or, as is often the case, they saw what they 
wanted to see. Pliny was sure that the hare was double 
sexed. Elien and Philostratus could cite instances 01 
males producing. 

The hare appears in other sacred characters. It was a 
moon symbol ; and, as such, honoured by Trojans. Agri- 
gentum of Sicily struck medals in its honour. As Eros the 
god of love is sometimes seen carrying a hare, the creature 
has been connected with the story of Proserpine and the 
underworld. It was related to Osiris, as Onnophris, the 
revealer of good things. Certainly, it meant Being, in an 
abstract sense. Only moderns would have been guilty of 

230 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

the impiety of partaking of jugged hare. Lenormant has 
some remarks upon it. " The presence of this animal," 
says he, " shows the reunion of two subjects, which, in 
mystical thought, are intermingled, the carrying away of 
Proserpine by Pluto, and of Ganymede by Jupiter." This 
implies the double sex of the godhead. He thinks, also, 
that it "might be considered as the symbol oi Logos. Now 
we have seen that the Logos ought to be hermaphrodite, 
and we know that the hare is an androgynous type." 

The Crocodile, now almost unknown in Egypt, must 
have been very numerous at one period, if we may judge 
from the enormous collection of their mummies in the 
grottoes of Maabdeh, overhanging the Nile. Many thou- 
sands were there carefully preserved. The animal was 
devoutly worshipped at Ombos, but sedulously hunted to 
death at Tentyra. There was, therefore, at that ancient 
time no one Catholic or Universal Church. This pleasing 
dream of unity has never been realized by any one expres- 
sion of religious faith, not even in Egypt. The Ombos 
men regarded those of Tentyra with sentiments of sectarian 
hate, which were duly reciprocated. The "gentle beast " 
seems to have been cherished at Thebes, and slaughtered 
at Elephantine. 

There was a time when its presence was hailed with 
delight by all parties. Its instinct teaching it the approach 
of the inundation, — that happy event, — it showed itself in 
the desert. Having no tongue, it displayed the discretion 
of divinity, that knew all but told nothing. It was equally 
a symbol in seeming to have no eyes, and yet perceiving. 
Plutarch describes it having its eyes " covered by a thin 
transparent membrane falling over them, by reason whereof 
it sees and is not seen ; which is a thing belonging to the 
First God, to see all things, himself not being seen." As 
it could not turn its head, it was the symbol of impossibility. 

Animal Worship. 231 

CrocodilopoHs was the seat of its worship. At Arsinoe 
it was dedicated to Set and Sebak. In a general sense, it 
may be called a Typhonic animal ; and, therefore, not a 
beloved but a dreaded symbol, though styled the great 
reptile of Horus. It is singular that in Madagascar at the 
present day reverence is paid to this monster. It is very 
curious that, while the iconoclastic Christians of Egypt 
destroyed and defaced every crocodile on monuments, they 
invariably spared the ugly Typhonic hippopotamus. 

The Serpent is treated by itself elsewhere. The SCOR- 
PION was sacred to Selk. 

The Dog kind, with wolf and jackal, formed a leading 
feature of Egyptian worship. The reader is referred to the 
chapter on " Sirius Worship," and to the account of Anubis 
for an extension of this subject. 

The wolf and jackal were honoured at Lycopolis. The 
jackal was the guardian of the north and south ; this is, of 
the sun's paths. The dog-headed god, Anubis, the Barker, 
watched over souls, like the Cerberus of the Greeks at the 
portals of Hades. Anubis in this form is often noticed 
seated on the funeral chests. But this dog is thought not 
to be the domestic animal, but the brush-tailed, square- 
eared, Fenek of Abyssinia. On monuments the dog is 
sometimes called the "spotted sphinx." The dog-star, 
Sirius, is the chief illustration of the animal. Plutarch 
wrote : " The dog anciently received in Egypt the greatest 
honours." Sir Gardner Wilkinson contends that the Greeks 
were wrong in using the word dog, as the creature was a 
jackal ; and he says, " The jackal is introduced at Beni 
Hassan with a wolf and other wild animals of Egypt, and 
that the dogs are never figured in the paintings of a form 
which could justify a similar conclusion." The simple reply 
to this is, that Sirius is clearly a dog, and must be a barker 
to suit the myth. The emblem of a sacred scribe was a 

232 Egyptian Belief and Moda^n Thotight. 

jackal or the Apheru. We read of a red v/olf-dog, having a 
long tail, and wandering at night. 

The Bull was pre-eminent in animal worship. In an 
agricultural country like Egypt, oxen drew the plough. 
Yet it was not for its field service, but as symbolizing ener- 
getic and resistless generative force in creation, that the bull 
was so venerated. Though of a phallic character, such re- 
presentation of creation might not have been improper in 
men of rude, primitive ages. 

Our interest in this subject has been much extended by 
the discovery of the Sei^apetim, or burial place of the Apis, 
near Memphis. This was a trophy of Mariette Bey's ex- 
ploration. The subterranean edifice was arched, 2000 feet 
long, 20 broad, and 20 high. Thirty bodies of embalmed 
bulls were found. The grave was, properly, at Saqqarah, and 
the temple at the neighbouring capital, Memphis. But the 
Serapeum was truly a temple itself, having hues of sphinxes 
leading to it, and a staff of priests to attend to the devo- 
tions of the place. 

It appears to have ceased being used as long ago as 
the twentieth dynasty ; or, about 3000 years since. It was 
certainly in existence 3000 years before that distant age 
of the world. Mariette Bey associates Khoufou, of the 
Pyramid, with the worship of " the White Bull," as monu- 
ments af^rm. He says, "We find the name (Apis) fre- 
quently cited upon monuments contemporaneous with the 
pyramids." One person is mentioned there as " Priest of 
the White Bull." Manetho, the Egyptian historian, dates 
the worship from the primitive king Cseechos. Maspero 
assumes him to be the second king of the second dynasty. 
One author, associating it with the sun in Taurus, dates 
the worship from B.C. 4698. 

Those, therefore, who claim the origin of religion in man 
to be the adoration of the natural laws in symbols and 

Animal Worship. 233 

deities, have authority to declare the existence of such 
veneration approaching seven thousand years back. The 
edict of Theodosius arrested the public observance of bull 

Apis, the bull god, was selected for his possession of 
certain marks. He must have had a white triangle on his 
forehead, a vulture on his back, a beetle under his tongue, 
a white crescent upon his shoulder, a cross upon his flank, 
and double hair in his tail. The difficulty of gathering 
together so many coincidences may be imagined, even for 
such knowing men as the priests of Egypt. But they re- 
ceived special inspiration for the search, and were guided 
to the spot where the creature was to be found. This was 
clearly the duty of divinities, seeing that the Apis had been 
born of a virgin heifer impregnated by a ray from heaven. 

Brought into luxurious apartments, he was well tended 
and worshipped, though not provided, as an emperor's horse, 
with gilded oats. He was too sacred to be allowed to 
drink Nile water. Arrived at the age of twenty-eight, if 
living so long, he was solemnly put to death, since Osiris 
died after twenty-eight years. There was deep mourning 
for the god during seventy days. 

Among the tales told of Apis is that he was, in some 
mysterious sense, the incarnation of Osiris. Men, in bow- 
ing before it, were adoring the mighty and representative 
god of Egypt. But Ptah, one of the creator-deities, assum- 
ing the fcrm of celestial fire, was said to have descended 
from heaven upon a cow, and became the father of a bull. 
Certainly as Hapi-ankh, the living Osiris, or Hapi, the de- 
ceased one, Apis was closely connected with Osiris, as the 
bull Nandi of India was with Siva. In Hindoo temples, 
Nandi and Siva are what Apis and Osiris were in Egypt. 
In emblematical processions, the bull walked between Isis 
and Nephthys, as if he were Osiris ithyphallic. He was the 

234 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

Taurus Poniatoivski that the Jesuit Kircher raised as a 
constellation. The priests of Apis were called Bai. 

The bull Mnevis was properly the son of Ptah, and was, 
consequently, the sun-god Ra, as Apis was Osiris. He 
carried the urseus and disk on his head, and was black in 
colour. His sacred abode was, of course, at Heliopolis, 
City of the Sun, whence came Cleopatra's Needle. A 
pretty sectarian quarrel existed between the worshippers of 
rival bulls. On a tablet found at Thebes is read a curse 
pronounced against Mnevis. No dull uniformity of creed 
existed in Egypt. Occasionally, and but very occasionally, 
one dominant denomination sought to lay disabilities upon 
supposed schismatics. 

Other bulls are mentioned ; as Pacis of Hermonthis, to 
Amoun-Horus ; as well as the bull Netos of Heliopolis, to 
Amoun-Ra. Upon monuments we see, so to speak, sexless 
bulls. Others, even, are hermaphroditic, having the teats of 
a cow alongside of masculine exponents. Apis was a solar 
deity, having the disk between the horns. But the horns 
themselves indicated a lunar character in the crescent. 
Apis was, thus, hermaphroditic, the highest embodiment 
of the godhead, at once life and the source of life. 

The bull myth is distinguished in other lands. There 
were not only horses of the sun, but oxen of the sun, traced 
through Greece to Phoenicia. The calf of Horeb immedi- 
ately rises in the mind of Biblical readers. In the Book of 
Tobit we have the later record of Baal and the Heifer, as 
of the Egyptian sun god and the White Cozv of Hathor at 
Athribis. In various parts we have the generative qualities 
of the bull pourtrayed ; as, in the Japanese bull breaking 
the primeval Qgg. An egg thirty feet round, with a bull 
sculptured upon it, has been discovered in Cyprus, left 
probably by the Phoenicians. Sir Samuel Baker illustrates 
the survival of Apis worship in the abstinence from ox 

Animal Worship. 235 

eating among tribes of the Upper Nile. The bee has some 
mysterious connection with Apis. The calf, figuring in 
funeral processions, was the emblem of new birth. 

The Todas of India, by some traced ethnologically along 
with Egyptians, have sacred Bell Cows. There is a line of 
holy cattle belonging to the priest of the tribe, who profits 
by the sale of milk, as Todas, like Apis worshippers, abstain 
from beef. The cow-priest is a particularly venerated 
character, who must not come in contact with any human 
being ; he is, consequently, a wifeless monk or hermit. 
His particular duty is to take charge of the Konku, the very 
ancient sacred cow-bells. When the cow-god has departed 
this Hfe, the priest takes her daughter and instals her as 
the successor incarnation of deity. After the chief of the 
sacred herd has worn the bell for a few days, the holy relic 
is consigned to the custody of the priest. 

The Hedgehog was sacred to Sekhet; and the Gazelle, 
to Horus. Symbolic monsters occur as early as the twelfth 
dynasty. The Sedja had a serpent's head and lion's tail. 
The Sha was a quadruped with long square ears. The Sak 
had forefeet of a lion, the hind ones of a horse, a straight 
tail, a hawk's head, and many triangular mamelles. There 
was a winged oryx, and a human-headed griffon. 

The Hawk was respected in spite of its fondness for 
Egyptian poultry, being the hieroglyphic for soul. As the 
ntshe, it was, at Heracleopolis, sacred to Horus, as well as to 
other superior divinities. As it is recognized behind the head 
of Shafra, of Pyramid times, the antiquity of this symbol of 
eternity is well established. When the animal is pictured 
lying as if dead, in a mummy condition, it is called ax'm, 
and represents the passive state of intelligence, or the divine 
larva state. With the wings open, it is death before life- 
Mariette Bey says it marks the development of that vital 
heat so essential to the resurrection of the dead. The 

236 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

hawk, in an ordinary sense, is the symbol of the soul. 
Human-headed and human-legged hawks typify human 
life in the other world. 

The Vulture is the symbol of material nature, Ma, the 
goddess mother, as it was supposed to have no need of 
masculine assistance in the duties of propagation. Its 
temple was at Eileithyia. 

The Bennou, the lapwing or heron, Shen-shen, was 
sacred to Osiris ; and, says Lcnormant, represented the 
solar period ; or, with Rouge, the return of Osiris to light. 

The Owl was worshipped at Sais. 

The Ibis, or Hab, devoted to Thoth at Hermopolis, was 
the enemy of the serpent races, which it devoured at the 
retirement of Nile waters, and it ate the eggs of crocodiles. 
The black wings related it to Chaos. The triangular shape 
of the bill identified an ibis with the holy mysteries of the 
Egyptian Trinity. The repugnance it showed to water 
in the least degree defiled made it a suitable symbol of 
purity. It was the messenger of Osiris, and it symbolized 

The Eagle was sacred to Horus. The SWALLOW of 
the solar mountains also belonged to Horus 

The Raven was adored at the Emerald mines of 

The PhOlNIX or Rech, the red one, probably the Ben- 
nou, represented Osiris in the resurrection. Pliny says it 
was the size of an eagle, with gold and purple wings, and a 
blue tail. Macrobius gives it the age of 660 years ; and 
others declare it lives 360 years, 500, 800, or 1460. No one 
ever saw it feeding. Ovid declares the name to be Assy- 
rian. The story goes, that after a long life the creature 
prepared a nest of perfumed wood on an altar, and was con- 
sumed in the burnt offering. From the ashes a worm arose, 
which developed into a phoenix. It was, thus, a type of 

Animal Worship. 237 

self-creation, or of the resurrection of the body. But Hero- 
dotus appears not to have heard the story of the ashes. 

The Goose, sacred among the Romans and other people 
among the ancients, was at Thebes on the head of Seb or 
Saturn, father of Osiris, and beginner of all creation ; for 
whom it was said to lay the Qgg of the world or universe. 
Ptah and Noum model the cosmic (^gg. Embalmed eggs 
have been found. The Ritual has several references to the 
samen. The Brahmanee Goose, sacred in Ceylon, is the 
national symbol of the Birmese Empire. In the contests 
of rival religious factions in Egypt, the sacred goose or 
Chenalopex has more than once come to grief. , The chase 
of the goose was a mystery. 

The SCARABEUS, or Apa, a sort of beetle, was a peculiarly 
sacred animal, and called by Pierret the synthesis of the 
Egyptian religion, typifying the resurrection. It figured 
largely with ornaments of the living, and in articles belong- 
ing to the dead. It was sacred to Ptah the creator, to the 
sun, and to Osiris generator. Its remarkable fecundity in 
the warm mud of the Nile was once thought to mark the 
vital force of the sun. But it was as the type of self- 
existence, or self-engendering deity, that it was pronounced 
most worthy of worship. It was believed that the scarabeus 
had no need of female auxiliary in the process of multi- 
plication. It cast forth seed, rolled it in a pellet of mud, 
and left the whole to be hatched by the sun. Self-engen- 
dering like the gods, it was a beautiful symbol of the 
resurrection, or re-birth of man. This sign of hope, ac- 
cording to Mariette Bey, is seen to flourish from the third 
dynasty to the age of Cambyses. We have a magnificent 
basaltic model of it, about five feet long, in the British 
Museum. In a Litany we read of " the beetle that folds 
its wings," alluding to the rest of the risen dead. The 
funeral scarabeus was to replace the heart. 

238 Egyptian Belief anei Moeleni Thoitght, 

Fishes were among symbolical animals. The Perch was 
honoured at Lapolis ; the Carp, at Lepidotum ; the Ognon 
de vier, at Pelusium ; the Nile Eel, to Hapi, at Syene ; the 
Mceotes, at Elephantine ; the Latiis, to Hathor, at Latopolis 
or Esne ; the Lcpidotos, at Lepidotopolis ; the Sihcris, at 
Bayad ; the Phagre, at Sais. The Oxyrinclms, with its 
long pointed nose, was an especial object of regard, on 
phallic grounds. Dagon of the Philistines was Oannes, the 
fish god of the Chaldeans. The initiated of mysteries were 
called Fish ; the same name was mystically applied by the 
early Christians to the Founder of our Faith. On religious 
grounds, Egyptians, and many other people, have refrained 
from eating fish. It is but recently that the Irish and 
the Scotch Highlanders have got over this aversion to 
fish food. 

The Frog was worshipped in the fifth dynasty, and may 
have symbolized years, or the resurrection. 

This connection of gods and symbols prevails in Hindoo 
mythology. Brahma is placed with the Swan ; Siva, the 
Bull ; Siva's wife, Durga, the Tiger ; Vishnu, the Gariida, 
half eagle and half man ; Lakshmi, Vishnu's wife, the 
Lotus ; Indra, the Elephant ; Ganesa, the Rat ; Yama, the 
Buffalo ; Varuna, the Fish ; and Kattikeya, the Peacock. 


THIS branch of symbolic religion was in high favour 
with the Egyptians, as with the Britons. Plants, 
like animals, suggest certain ideas belonging to human 
conceptions of the deity and future life. In all ages and 
climes certain vegetable forms have attracted special rever- 
ence ; but, in Egypt, some that were once so esteemed 
are not now to be found. Both the fir and the cypress 
were conspicuous objects in the Elysium of the very ancient 
monuments, though unknown in the Nile land for a long 
period. The cypress was adored in Mexico. The fir cone 
was carried by the shrine-bearer in Egyptian processions. 

Some trees, favoured elsewhere, were disregarded in 
Egypt. The peepul or Asvattha of India, sheltering the 
Pitris or spirits of the dead, is thei?^-tree or Fiais rcligiosa. 
A specimen in Ceylon is said to be 2300 years old. 
The Asvattha is the world-tree, like the Ash Yggdrasil of 
the Scandinavians. The banyan shows connection ot 
heaven and earth in its descending branches. The Palasa 
with its triple leaves is another holy plant of India. The 
Todas there worship the fragile Meliosma siniplicifolia^ and 
its bark yields them the means of pious purification. 

Assyria bowed to the mystical Tree of Life. The sim- 
plest form of it on monuments is a pillar, with two horns 
having leaves. But the Asherah had many branches, ending 
in globular flowers with three projecting rays. One is seen 
with seven branches on each side, beside the top. The word 
Asherah is translated Grove in our Bible, where it occurs 
thirty times. It is styled an idol in 2 Chronicles xv. 16 and 
I Kings XV. 13. The French Bible has it idole infdine. 

240 Egyptiari Belief and Modern TJiotight. 

The chief religious Egyptian trees or plants were the 
sycamore, fig, tamarisk, persea, onion, trefoil, vine, ivy, 
palm, papyrus, bean and lotus. 

Rods were in use before the ones held by Moses and 
Aaron. They symbolized dignity, and were in the 4iands 
of officials. They are even so depicted on the seal of 
Arbroath Abbey. The rod of Hermes had three leaves, as 
the Indian Palasa. Thor s rod was of hazel. The present 
wishing-rod is a sort of Mercury's caduceus. We read of 
the staff of inheritance, Jer. x. 16 ; li. 19. That has 
been compared with the animal-headed staff borne by the 
god Anubis. Then, there was the augural staff. A gra- 
duated one marked the inundation height. The rod held 
by the Jews at the Feast of Tabernacles, branches tied 
with citrons, was a sort of Thyrsus, like as in use with the 
Syrians and Egyptians. 

The Sycamore was the Tree of Life. We have it, with 
human arms, as an illumination of the 19th chapter of the 
Ritual. The dead feast upon the heavenly sycamore. As 
M. Chabas remarks : " The tree of life distributed drink 
and food, which the texts describing it represent as par- 
ticularly precious for him." It was the Soma from the 
Asclepias of India, or the Zend Haom. Julius Braun 
gives the sentiment thus : " The root of this conception is 
the tree of life in the ancient system of Zoroaster. The 
fruit and sap of this Tree of Life bestow immortality." 
The winged Genius of Assyria stands before it with a 
vessel holding the juice and fruit. So do we see in Egypt 
the goddess Nout or Neith in the sycamore giving juice 
and fruit to worshippers below. But Hathor, the Venus of 
the Nile, is also styled " mistress of the sycamore." To 
her it was sacred at Heliopolis. And there, to this day, is 
shown a tree sacred to the Virgin Mary, in which she is 
said to have taken shelter when fleeing from Herod. Apol- 

Tree Worship. 241 

lonius of Tyane, the philosopher and spiritual medium, 
went to Thebes to get information from a holy sycamore, 
which gave forth its instructions with human voice. 

The Fig is not special to Egypt. There was a sacred fig 
at Eleusis, and it was dedicated to Zeus and Poseidon. 
The fig-leaf had a phallic significance ; symbolizing per- 
haps Xh^yoni. Plutarch mystically talks of '' the imbibition 
and motion of all things ; besides it seems naturally to 
resemble the member of generation." The tamarisk was 
dedicated, like the vine and the ivy, to Osiris, as to Bacchus 
or Demiurgus. The tamarisk shades his sacred ark, and 
is represented being watered by the priests. 

The Persea is the Balanites yEgyptiaca, and was the 
symbol of the " Sacred Heart," a great mystery with the 
ancients, as it has become with some moderns. It is still 
cherished by both Mahometans and Christians in Egypt as 
in some way a symbol of life. It was as such that it was 
deposited on the breasts of mummies. The leaves resemble 
the laurel, and the fruit is like the pear. The kernel has 
that heart shape which brought the tree its honour. It was 
the Sacred Heart of Horus, so devoutly worshipped. It is 
seen on the head of Isis, cut open to show the kernel. 
Vishnu, like Horus, carries the heart outside on his breast. 
So was it with Bel of Babylon. The lacerated heart of 
Bacchus excited the tears of women. In the St. Petersburg 
Museum may be witnessed a flaming heart in the hand of 
a Siberian god. The Persea suggested heart sentiments to 
the ancient Egyptian. Thoth inscribes the names of kings 
on the persea bark to ensure immortality. The basin of 
the persea was a mysterious region of chapters 17 and 125 
of the Ritual. 

The Onion symbol, still adored in India, told the Nile 
men of the revolution of planets, and typified the renewal 
of ages. 


242 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought, 

The Trefoil served the purpose of the Irish shamrock. 
It was the three-in-one mystery. Adorning the head of 
Osiris, it fell off at the moment of his death. As the 
trefoil symbolized generative force in man, the loss of the 
garland was the deprivation of vigour in the god ; or, as 
some think, the suspension of animal strength in winter. 

The Palm is regarded by Dr. Lepslus as a very ancient 
emblem. Offerings to It are noticed in the earliest of steles 
at Abousir. It Is highly probable that the Assyrian tree 
of life Is but a conventional palm. The oldest form In 
Nile pictures has but two branches at the summit. While 
the common palm was sacred to Isis, Osiris had the date 
palm. The symbol was, probably, to show the cycle of 
ages ; since naturalists used to speak of the palm throwing 
out new branches each month. The Jews connected the 
tree with Solomon In mystic rites, and held a tradition 
that it existed as the principal plant in the Garden of 
Eden. It is still a favourite Christian symbol of life, or the 
resurrection. In France it was the emblem of the first 
Merovingian kings, but gave place to the Fleitr de lis, a form 
of lotus or lily. 

The Bean was prohibited to the priests of Egypt, as 
to religious teachers in other lands. Pythagoras prohibited 
it to his disciples ; but he had been initiated at Heliopolls 
or On. It was impure to the worshippers of Demeter 
In Greece, etc. Ceres gave to man the seeds of all plants, 
excepting the bean ; that seed was supplied by a less 
benevolent personage. The Saba'ans of Syria abstained 
from it. The Faba A^gyptiaca is thought to be the real 
sacred bean of Egypt. Women were kept from It in 
certain places ; as the Athenian females were from the 
pomegranate. Though forbidden in all mysteries and 
sacrifices, the bean was thrown upon graves. This in- 
dicates its symbolic character, being ithyphalllc from its 

Tree Worship, 243 

shape. Thus it meant the resurrection, the employment 
of new generative force. 

The Lotus was, above all, the religious plant of Egypt. 
We have it on all sorts of monuments. It was the uni-^ 
versal favourite ; as necessary to friendship and banquet 
merriment, as to the service of the temple. One of the 
Nymphcea or water-lily order, it rose with the flood; and 
opened to the sun. Herodotus speaks of two sorts. One 
was made into a sort of bread. Its root is still eaten. The 
other was less known. The fruit, on a separate stem from 
the side of the root, was eaten green and dried. There are 
two stalks to the Nymphcea Nehimho, one bearing the fruit. 
Heeren tells us that " both plants had religious allusions. " 

As the secret of this symbol lay in Its productive 
powers, the following from the work of Payne Knight 
explains the interior : " The orifice of the cells being too 
small to let the seeds drop out when ripe, they shoot 
forth Into new plants in the places where they were formed ; 
the bulb of the vessel serving as a matrix to nourish 
them, until they acquire such a degree of magnitude 
as to break It open, and release themselves. After which 
like other aquatic plants, they take root wherever the cur- 
rent deposits them." 

It is easy, then, to understand why Creuser called the 
lotus the " birthplace and bed of Hymen " ; Rouge, the 
" new birth " ; and Lepsius, " inexhaustible life." It was 
further said to be independent of masculine pollen. Per- 
haps nothing in nature so aptly illustrates self-creation, 
and the divine action in production. It is the symbol of 
deity in its androgyneity, being male and female. Phre 
was born in it. It was the emblem of the goddess Nefer- 
Tum. Dr. Barlow recognized it as '*' the womb of nature." 
The Masonic clergyman. Dr. Oliver, saw that it was " one 
of the principal ornaments of Solomon^'s Temple." It ex- 

244 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

emplifies the creation of all things from water, over which 
the Spirit brooded. 

India, Persepolis, and Nineveh honoured it. The French 
long retained it as the national emblem in the Fleur de lis ; 
and it is still in Europe, as it was in Egypt, marked on 
religious walls, floors, roofs, pillars, and altar-cloths. Isis 
was impregnated by it. The Greek artists perpetuated the 
idea. In the Berlin Museum may be seen some pictured 
satyrs jestingly offering it to a woman seated before them. 
The medieval artists followed suit, and, a little shame- 
lessly, made the angel Gabriel bring it from heaven to the 
Virgin Mary. 


THE chapter on Funeral Rites furnishes evidence 
of this doctrine of the people. It undoubtedly 
flourished clearly under the Ancient Empire. The story of 
those old steles from the tombs of Gizeh and Saqqarah 
does certainly lend some strong support to the opinion 
of Herbert Spencer, as expressed in his " Sociology," that 
Ancestor Worship was the father idea of all religion. Yet 
M. Beauregard sees its source '* in the dogma of the im- 
mortality of the soul.'' 

Ancestor worship, remarks Max Miiller, " not only pre- 
supposes the conceptions of immortality, and of the ideal 
unity of a family, but implies in many cases a belief that 
the spirits of the departed are worthy to share the honours 
paid to divine beings." The Egyptians did pray to their 
dead as well as for them. The offerings to them, as 
described elsewhere, are those presented to the gods. 
These are pictured on the most ancient of monuments. 
The thousands of statuettes in a single tomb attest the 
power of this sentiment. 

Prayers for the dead were common enough, especially 
that the gods would conduct the deceased friend safely 
through the trials of the Egyptian Purgatory. The early 
Christians continued the practice. " Thou prayest in good 
part for him," wrote Tertullian, " that his bones and ashes 
may be comforted, and desirest that he may rest happily 
in the shades below." Like the Egyptians, they held the 
anniversary feast ; as Tertullian affirms : " We offer on one 
day every year, oblations for the dead as birthday honours." 

246 Egyptian Belief and Alodern ThoiLght. 

In the Office of Gregory we read this: "For them, O 
Lord, and for all who are at rest in Christ, we pray for a 
place of refreshment." The Roman Missal prays, like the 
Egyptian Ritual, that souls in Hades " be not delivered 
into the hands of the enemy.'"' 

The Egyptians recognized the good or bad offices 
the dead could work on earth. Napoleon III., not long 
before his death, said : " It is the soul of my great uncle 
which has always guided and supported me." But they 
prayed the dead, as if possessed of divine power, to give 
them good things. So in the Vedas one reads this 
address to the Pitris, or fathers : " Behold the offering 
for you. — We pray you graciously to grant us riches. Be- 
stow upon us wealth, with numerous offspring." 

Ancestor worship recognizes the belief in an immortality, 
where the dead shall, in some mysterious manner, be 
assimilated to the divine nature. It is in conjunction with 
the worship of deity, like King Worship, and may be 
pronounced as an outflow from that doctrine. 


ONE of the most singular illustrations of Egyptian 
religion is the sacred homage paid to sovereigns, 
and the assumption of deified honours by them. This is 
Euemerism or man-worship. 

But this is not absolutely confined to the Nile Valley, 
having been known on the banks of the Euphrates and 
Tiber, beneath the shadow of the Andes in Peru, and is 
still in China. When in these days Christian Englishmen 
are to be found believing in the inspiration of the Pyramids, 
one can wonder less at persons so many thousands of 
years back relying upon the inspiration of royal builders 
of the Pyramids. 

Though Divinity in Egypt was never so degraded as 
with the anthropomorphic Greeks, yet the ladder of com- 
munication between heaven and earth was a short one. 
Without wishing to be irreverent, it might be said that there 
was then a strong conviction of the virtue of something like 
apostolic succession. There was the touch of sanctity, the 
oil anointing, the laying on of hands, by which mysterious 
virtue and power could be brought direct from the gods 
to certain persons. Priests were thus specially ordained, 
that is, had a special inspiration conferred upon them. 
And kings, always priests and heads of the Church, re- 
ceived such heavenly sanction and godlike privileges upon 
investiture. When crowned, with appropriate rites and 
prayers, the king could not only forgive sins like a priest, 
but he became, in a sense, the Vicar of God on earth, the 
Infallible, and the personated Deity. 

248 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

In this way some see a great propriety in the assumption 
of papal infaUibility. It was truly the topstone of the 
Church edifice, which was incomplete without it. The 
Pope now is virtually the successor of the Pharaohs. He 
is priest and king. He is the thrice crowned. He is the 
earth personification of Deity, who rules by him. He is 
the ultimatum of appeal in all questions of faith and morals, 
as the Pharaoh was. But, until the recent proclamation 
of the Council at Rome, that the Pope was infallible, the 
parallel was incomplete ; for the deified and adored Pharaoh 
was assumed to be the Infallible. 

Under these circumstances, royalty took a very exalted 
position in Egypt. Rebellions were kept in check ; as it 
would not do to oppose the anointed one. Kings could do 
no wrong. After the death of the ruler, he was a proper 
object to address in prayer ; as, though not absolute God, 
his spirit had such a measure of the divine about it as 
to warrant worship of some kind. As Chabas points out, 
" Almost all the temples of the left bank of the Nile at 
Thebes had been constructed in view of the worship 
rendered to the Pharaohs, their founders, after their death." 

Like other elements of Egyptian religion, this idea had 
a development ; and, like as in all such cases, not a 
development for the better. At first, in the Ancient 
Empire, the man differed in no way from another until he 
had been specially set apart for the kingly of^ce. After- 
wards, it was contended that there was an invisible chain of 
sanctity running through royalty, that made the individual 
divine because he was royal. In the purer days of the 
monarchy the king was never worshipped until after his 
decease ; in more corrupt times he was adored as deity 
while on earth. 

As a remnant of this old doctrine is retained even in 
Europe, it has a considerable interest even to moderns. 

King Worship, 249 

It is not merely a Roman Catholic sovereign, or the Czar 
of Russia, but the Protestant Emperor of Germany, who 
accepts a large amount of homage, and has a self-belief 
of special inspiration, by virtue of coronation rites and 


The Religious Tract Society's work on Egyptian religion 
is a fair statement of facts. It is quite correct in saying, 
*' The mystical or inaugural title of all the ancient monarchs 
of Egypt commences, zvithout one exception, with the image 
of the sun's disk." 

This is an important position to assume. It effectually 
disposes of the idea of Prof. Piazzi Smyth, that the builder 
of the Great Pyramid was not an idolater. As his car- 
touche, inside the very edifice, gives the accompaniments 
of sun worship and animal worship, along with his name, 
the Tract Society's book is proved to be right, and in 
opposition to the other theory. M. Dufeu expressly tells 
his readers that the founder of the hypogeum of the Great 
Pyramid " was deified and worshipped to the time of the 
Ptolemies." Dr. Birch admits that the priests for the 
worship of Sahura, second king of the fifth dynasty, '' were 
found as late as the Ptolemies." On the coffin of Men- 
keres, of the Third Pyramid, was written : " O deceased 
king, born of heaven, issue of Nut, child of Seb ! Thy 
mother Nut is extended over thee in her name of mystery 
of heaven. She has made thee to be as God ; annihilated 
are thy enemies, O king." On the coffin lid of Menkeres, 
builder of the Third Pyramid, we read : " Oh, king Men- 
keres, live for ever ! " This, as the learned Brugsch observes, 
proves that he had become divine. 

The cartouche of king Snefrou, predecessor of Khoufou 
or Cheops, was to be seen in Ptolemy's time ; and Viscount 
Rouge declares : " This king still received public worship at 
Memphis toward the end of the monarchy." But a bas- 


o Egyptian Belief and Modern Thoicght, 

relief has been discovered near the old mining works of 
Mount Sinai, the traditionally holy mount, which wonder- 
fully confirms what others had written. The tablet speaks 
of him as '' the King of High and Low Egypt, the Lord of 
Diadems, the Lord of Truth, Hawk of gold, Snefrou," etc. 
But that bas-relief claims divinity for him as it styles 
him " Great God." 

The value of this record of the beginning of the fourth 
dynasty — six thousand years since — cannot be overrated. 
A leading Egyptologist says : *' This bas-relief is at present 
the most ancient of the known historical monuments, at 
least among those dated by cartouches." But Pierret goes 
higher still ; and, speaking of Menes, the earliest king, 
says : " We find some traces of a commemorative worship 
rendered to him at Memphis." 

Dr. Birch, who is no romancer, confirms the report of 
the deification of Cheops, the builder of the Pyramid. He 
is referring to Shepeskaf, who succeeded the founder of the 
Third Pyramid ; and remarks : " Under his reign the post- 
humous worship of his predecessor Khufu (Cheops) was 
continued." His cartouche claims him for an idolater as 
well as a god. He was scarcely the man described by 
Prof. Smyth as " thoroughly Hycsos in heart," believer in 
the True God, and receiving '' the aid of Divine Inspiration 
from on high" in his erection of the '* Temple of Inspira- 
tion." Brugsch shows that Cheops was worshipped at least 
down to the twenty-sixth dynasty. 

In the name of king Nefer-ka-ra, of the second dynasty, 
we have the worship of Ra, the sun, mentioned. It was 
not the mere object of the man's worship, but the assump- 
tion of Ra qualities. At Oxford is a monument of a 
prophet of the worship of the king, dated in the time of 
Sent, of the second or Thinnite dynasty. 

Dufeu, identifying Cephrenes, of the Second Pyramid, 

King Worship, 251 

and part builder of the First, with king Soris, and knowing 
that this worsliip continued till after Alexander the Great's 
time, asks, " Why this deification and this persistent wor- 
ship, if Cephrenes had not given to Egypt a monument of 
an importance thus complete for his country ? " But the 
fact is, that kings left money or land for the saying of 
masses, as we should now call them, and we have distinct 
mention of such offerings being in actual employment for 
Cephrenes, during the reign of one of the Ptolemies. No 
Harry the Eighth of Egypt had presumed to secularize 
the religious bequests of ancestors ; and, thus, prayers to 
the king of the fourth dynasty continued to be said, by 
priests paid for the work out of the original legacy, for 
nearly four thousand years. 

A king of the fourth dynasty calls himself the Sun, 
perfecting good offerings ; of the sixteenth, " Sun, offered 
to the world ; " of the twenty-sixth, '* Sun, the good- 
hearted." The very word Pharaoh, applied to all sovereigns, 
means PJire, the sun, the tutelary divinity of kings. Wil- 
kinson rightly, therefore, calls them, " the representatives 
of the divinity on earth." 

Rouge mentions an ancient tomb of the Serapeum, on- 
the funeral stone of which is an inscription, noting that 
the priest was attached to the commemorative worship of 
king Nefer-ar-ka-ra. The age of this tablet is that of the 
fifth dynasty. Amenemhe I. is described as "Great God." 
Another says that he has gone to sit on the throne of Ra, 
and sail, like him, through space. Elsewhere we have 
sentences like these : "The ninth god ; " " He is the divine 
king ; " " His soul is in the disk of the sun, and the soul of 
Ra shines in his shape ; " " Son of Toum, from his loins, 
v/ho loves him ; " " Hathor (mother of the sun) generated 
him ; " " Vivifier, like the sun," etc. The king's birth is 
always a case of miraculous conception. 

252 Egyplian Belief and Modern Thought. 

Mariette Bey has a statement upon king worship, when 
treating of the tomb story of priest Scheri at Saqqarah 
Necropohs, and the cartouches of two sovereigns of the 
eleventh dynasty. " Scheri," says he, " was attached to 
the worship \Yhich was rendered to those kings in their 
tombs, by virtue of a usage which appears proper to the 
Ancient Empire. It was thus that the worship of Papi, 
of Mycerinus, of Cheops, of Snefrou, of Menes, are per- 
petuated under the last kings of the national dynasties, and 
even under the Greeks." 

In another place, this learned Egyptian savant recalls 
to remembrance the worship of kings, who had erected 
pyramids, in chapels built in front of those huge structures. 
There is a high testimony to the national character in the 
fact that revenues, appropriated to such services, were care- 
fully and honestly so appropriated, thousands of years 
after the treasure had been deposited. He speaks of a 
priest of Abydos, named Ouna, living under the sixth 
dynasty, B.C. 3500, who worshipped in a chapel attached 
to a pyramid. Another is mentioned who had " to make 
funeral offerings to the king whose remains were guarded 
by the pyramid." 

In one form the custom long continued ; as SoyutI, in 
1530, noticed the story of men offering incense, hens, and 
black calves to the pyramids. A traveller of more recent 
date observed a similar worship in Syria. Pyramidions, 
or votive pyramids, are known to belong to, at least, the 
eleventh dynasty, 

The phrases occurring on obelisks are justly considered 
illustrative of the divine character of kings. On the 
English obelisk, or Cleopatra's Needle, the sun, and the 
hawk of Horus, are applied to the sovereign there. On the 
Paris obelisk, Ramses II. modestly applies this to himself: 
*' Golden Horus, full of years, powerful in the fortresses, 

King Woi'ship. 253 

king Ra-user-ma, chief of chiefs, was begotten by Toum of 
his own flesh, by him alone, to become king of the earth 
for ever and ever, and to supply with offerings the temple 
Ammon." The Flaminian obelisk at Rome has these 
well sounding words : '* The Horus, the Powerful, the 
beloved of the sun, the Ra, the offspring of the gods, the 
subjugator of the world, the king, the Pharaoh." 

One king is thus addressed : " Thou art as it were the 
image of thy father, the sun, who rises in heaven. No 
place is without thy goodness. Bright is thy eye above 
the stars of heaven. Whatever is done in secret, thy eye 
seeth it." A departed king has this glory : " The birth of 
the Osirian (the deceased) is the birth of Ra (the sun)." 
The Pharaoh bears the name of " Living form of the solar 
sphinx " on earth. Elsewhere he is the incarnation of 
Horus. He is " Lord of the world ; " " Director of the 
years ; " " begotten and educated by the gods ; " " ever- 
lasting like the sun ; " and " giving life for ever." Homer 
speaks of " divine Memnon." 

In Mr. W. R. Cooper's admirable citation from one of 
the Litanies of the Sun, we learn how kings are spoken of 
in the people's hymns to Ra. Thus : 

" Thou Greatest the royal Osirian (deceased king) ; the 
development of his body is like thine, because the royal 
Osirian is one of thy companions. — The royal Osirian 
knows all that concerns the hidden beings. — The royal 
Osirian is thyself, and reciprocally. — Such as thou art, 
such is the royal Osirian. — The king speaks to thee like 
Ra. He praises thee with his intelligence. The king is 
like the god, and reciprocally. He moves by himself" 

M. Pierret, of the Louvre, has some learned remarks on 
king worship. " The title," says he, " improperly translated 
as king of Upper and Lower Egypt is, as has been demon- 

2 54 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght, 

strated by M. Grebaut, a divine title. It expresses the 
dominion upon the south and north of the universe, a do- 
minion special to the sun, that spreads light to the left and 
to the right, in its course from east to west. The king of 
Egypt appropriated this title to himself, because he is 
himself a god, a Horus, a rising sun." " The kings, always 
assimilated to Horus, are everywhere figured holding the 
cow of Hathor." He speaks of the cartouche, or elliptical 
enclosure for a name, as " a seal more or less lengthened-; " 
and a seal is the symbol of renewal or eternity. There 
are two sorts of cartouches. One he calls the prenominal, 
" which always expresses an assimilation of the king to the 
sun ; it is the divine name." The other, proper name, pre- 
ceding the words Son of the Stm, is " the name of the king 
considered as a reigning Horus upon earth." 

Mr. C. W. Goodwin has some remarks upon addresses 
in king worship. "This is not," he says, " the language of a 
courtier. It seems to be a genuine expression of the be- 
lief that the king was the living representative of the deity, 
and from this point of view is much more interesting and 
remarkable than if treated as a mere outpouring of empty 
flattery." There was a deep meaning in the Babylonian 
salutation of, " O king ! live for ever ! " 


WITHOUT a reference to this subject no history of 
the religion of Egypt would be complete. 

A very natural objection to its introduction in a book 
not specially written for the learned is its supposed con- 
nection with impropriety and indelicacy. But to ignore it 
on that account is scarcely right, because of its importance 
to the correct study of ancient faiths. It should be borne 
in mind that the standard of ideas of modesty is affected 
by language, and that language changes as ideas change. 
Shakespeare in the words of the poet would not be sanc- 
tioned in family reading now. A fresh translation of the 
Bible would affect an alteration of phraseology once un- 
objectionable to the ears of the pious. 

Something may be said as to the defectiveness of lan- 
guage in more primitive times. We have several times 
as many words in our dictionary now as were known in 
England three hundred years ago ; and can, consequently, 
express ourselves with a taste and precision that would not 
wound the most fastidious ear. 

In the same way, symbolism, the outward expression of 
ideas, may be comprehended as changing in character 
according to the march of refinement. In a rude age, a 
coarse representation by no means implied a lower tone of 
moral feeling. 

Another fact should not be forgotten. In proportion to 
tlie expansion of a language is there less necessity for the 
employment of symbolism. The bold images of Homer 
and Ossian, which stand out as Alpine peaks against the 

256 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

blue sky, testify to the paucity of words at the period, but 
not the barrenness of intellectual conception. It is well 
enough known that as a language improves it loses as 
gradually its poetical character. We need go to barbaric 
lands, where a couple of thousand words complete a voca- 
bulary, to enjoy poetry in everyday talk. 

They who were the teachers of religious truth in the 
infancy of the world of humanity may have felt this 
linguistic difficulty in their creation and perpetuation of 
symbolism. A people, whose climate and habits brought 
them in more common association with nature than in our 
case, would be quick to realize a meaning in a figure, when 
that was brought from an outwardly revealed object. The 
necessity laid upon them, in the defects of language, to 
rely upon symbolism, sharpened their wits to appreciate it. 
Some men are dull enough to realize a joke, or compre- 
hend a pun. Certainly, we moderns are slower in poetical 
analysis as we are less called upon for its exercise. 

As Homeric comparisons have sometimes a simplicity 
amounting to coarseness, so ancient symbolism had less of 
the euphemistic than is apparent in a higher civilization. 
The same idea was meant to be conveyed ; but what was 
^gained in delivery was lost in force. The exchange typified 
no real moral advance. 

The scholar Avho gazed to-day at the roof of Temple 
Church, London, had the illustration before him. A 
symbol there, repeatedly displayed, is the popular Hindoo 
one to express sex worship, and has, by some strange 
Temple belief, got into a Christian church. But, though 
perfectly intelligible to the poetic mind of the Hindoo, it 
conveys no thoughts to the Londoner ; who would, how- 
ever, be shocked enough if the primitive symbol for which 
this stands had been retained. Our love for what is old, 
our reverence for what our fathers used, makes us keep 

Sex Worship. 257 

still in the church, and on the very altar cloths, symbols 
which would excite the smile of an Oriental, and lead him 
to wonder why we send missionaries to his land while 
cherishing his faith in ours. 

The primitive teacher was wrong, some think, in having 
recourse to such symbolism, and should have avoided the 
introduction of a system which degenerated into idolatry. 
Still, while three-fourths of nominal Christendom indulge 
the practice, one need not be strong in condemnation. 

The first doctrine to be taught men would have relation 
to their being. The existence of a creator could be illus- 
trated by a potter at the wheel. But there was a much 
more expressive form familiar to them, indicative of cause 
and effect in the production of births in the tribe, or in 
nature around. In this way the phallus became the ex- 
ponent of creative power ; and, though to our eyes vulgar 
and indecent, bore no improper meaning to the simple 
ancient worshipper. 

Mrs. Lydia Maria Child asks : " Is it strange that they 
regarded with reverence the great mystery of human birth.-* 
Were they impure thus to regard it } Or, are we impure 
that we do 7iot so regard it .? Let us not smile at their 
mode of tracing the infinite and incomprehensible Cause 
throughout all the mysteries of nature, lest by so doing we 
cast the shadow of our own grossness on their patriarchal 

The phallic exhibition, though coarse, was forcible. As 
in the case of all symbolism, it degenerated into a worship 
of the object in the place of that which it was intended to 
serve. Undoubtedly, the most natural portrayal was that 
of the Egyptians. Nothing could be plainer than Ammon 
Generator, Ptah embryonic, and ithyphallic Osiris. The 
generative force and activity of deity could have no more 
striking a symbol. 


258 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

But, though so coarse, and so considerably modified after- 
wards, was it, for the time being, necessarily improper ? 
Prurient ideas are, in these very refined days, hunted out 
with avidity by many from the very simplest, and, appar- 
ently, most harmless of things. Wherever sensuality can 
find occasion to run riot, it will do so ; and, with no ob- 
vious occasion, will invent one. That a less distinctive 
symbolism, not of so gross a type, is to be commended, is 
saying as much as that the language of Queen Victoria's 
reign is to be preferred to that of Queen Elizabeth. Of 
that milder form Dr. Barlow speaks thus : " The sexual 
principle came to be symbolically set forth as the founda- 
tion of a religious creed, but in a conventional way that 
divested it of any indecency." 

We have, then, to judge of a phallic faith according to 
a people and their period, and not after our own modern 

Sex worship is as ancient as star worship, if not more 
so. Such phallicism was the exponent of the principle of 
renewal and reproduction. It was the most natural form 
of expressing the idea of creation, and the dependance of 
man upon Providence. The Ancient Egyptians, however, 
had such nice notions of propriety as to confine it to the 
masculine development. Symbolism of a purely feminine 
nature, became the expression of a more cultured but less 
virtuous community. Circumcision, though associated by 
some with sun worship, may be accepted as a rite of sex 
worship. Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos, speaking of the neigh- 
bouring nations as far as India, says : " Many of them 
practise divination, and devote their genitals to their 

The Ptah embryonic and the ithyphallic Osiris gave 
place to the trefoil and the crux. The female Yoni was 
symbolised by a circle, a dot, an oval, a triangle, a lozenge, 

Sex Wo7'ship. 259 

a boat-shaped shell, etc. The pyramid In its quadrilateral 
base and triangular sides illustrated the union of active 
spiritual agency on the Inert passive femininity of matter. 
The obelisk in its union of four equilateral triangles meant 
the same thing. The sacred mysteries of the ancients, 
according to a Father of the Church, Clemens Alexan- 
drlnus, were but the adoration of these sex emblems. 
Under the name of Taenhamm, loaves in the form of the 
phallus were placed as offerings in Egypt. 

But the phallus, so conspicuous in Egyptian theology, 
was associated with another idea than creation. It ex- 
pressed resurrection. 

For this reason, it was pictured on coffins, and in tombs. 
It told survivors that there was hope in the future. Vitality 
was not extinct. Upon this Mariette Bey finely observes : 
" These images only symbolise in a very expressive manner 
the creative force of nature, without obscene intention. It 
is another way to express Celestial Generation^ which should 
cause the deceased to enter into a new life." 

Socrates, as Plato tells us, prayed to Pan, the Greek 
phallic god. So correct a moralist saw no impropriety in 
the recognition of that conception of the Supreme One. 
Plutarch has this apology : " Feigned to be lascivious^ 
because of the multitude of spermatic reasons contained 
in the world, and the continual mixtures and generations 
of things." " But," as a learned writer in America says : 
"■ like all sacred ideas, when translated into matter, the law 
of physical generation came to be regarded as mere physi- 
cal enjoyment." The pure idea was first ; the corruption 

That Schllemann found such emblems, at a depth of 
forty-two feet in the d(^bris of the supposed Troy, was 
thought remarkable. Yet the earliest times of Chaldea 
and Egypt tell the same tale. Professor Monier Williams 

26o Egyptiaii Belief and Modern Thotight. 

talks in this way of the Indian Siva : " His character is 
oftener typified by the reproductive hnga, without necessary 
impHcation of sensual ideas, than by any symbol of des- 
truction." Priapus, the son of Venus and Adonis, was the 
Peor-apis of Egypt, the Pcor of Scripture. The Phallica 
feasts were once as pure as the Love feasts of early 
Christians ; though, like them, rapidly degenerating into 
licentiousness. As Abbe Pluche writes: "The indiscretion 
of that symbol gave birth to all sorts of extravagance." 

The ship or ark idea of sex worship is noted under the 
head of " Symbolic Belief" That is distinctively the 
female sign, and is the Argha of Siva worship in which the 
lingam stands. As a phallic emblem, it is a prominent one. 
Osiris and others went into it, and yet came from it. 

The Hermaphroditic element of religion is sex wor- 
ship. Gods are styled Jie-she. Synesius gives an inscription 
on an Egyptian deity : " Thou art the father and thou art 
the mother — Thou art the male and thou art the female." 
It was a son of Mercury and Venus that loved the nymph 
Salmacis, who, embracing him, begcred the gods to make 
them one, and so a being hermaphrodite was formed. 

The long garments of priests, continued to this day, were 
to illustrate the union of the feminine and the masculine. 
What some modern wits have called the Intermediate sex, 
the ancients regarded as types of the hermaphrodite. The 
Logos deities were esteemed of both sex ; as were the Venus 
barbata of Cyprus ; the Phrygian Agdestis, the Zeus 
Labrandseus of Caria, the Atys of Phrygia, the Priapus of 
Etruria, Jupiter Terminalis, etc. The Manichaeans of the 
early Christian era declared that a man-woman deity gave 
life to Eve. Bacchus, Cybele, and other gods and god- 
desses are seen of double sex. Selene was a male form of 
the moon. The ithyphallic Apollo is observed in a female 
dress, while the Logos Dionysus has three rows of breasts. 

Sex Worship. 261 

Max Muller notices a constant relation between the ithy- 
phallic god and the conception of hermaphroditic being. 
Lenormant speaks of hermaphrodite complete, and herma- 
phrodite passive. 

The sacred mystery of the Logos or Demmrgiis in Egypt 
is indissolubly associated with this subject. When Ammon, 
Ptah, Khem, Osiris, or Horus appear in ithyphallic guise, 
it is in their condition as the Demiurgus, by whom the 
worlds were made. That emblem was a reverent acknow- 
ledgment of such divine power, exercised by the First Born, 
and yet Self-Created, Principle. 

But, as the emblem of a new life, it shed a light across 
the dark waters of death ; and men saw and believed in 
the seeds of a fresh existence, on untried fields ; but fields 
as real to the faith of the ancient Egyptian as the Nile 
valley in which he drove his plough. A modern writer on 
Magic, then, does not miss the mark when saying : " Phy- 
sical generation was once esteemed as the gate by which 
the soul entered upon the stupendous pathway of progress, 
and became fitted for its angelic destiny in the celestial 

Sex worship was, then, the very basis of religion. It 
not only illustrated the creative or, rather, regenerative 
power of Deity, but it indicated the production of life 
from death, the renewal of being in other forms, the real 
resurrection. Its subsequent debasement into phallic 
obscenity, with the Greeks and others, is on a parallel wdth 
the degradation of other faiths, originally as pure and well- 


IN all times and countries favouring symbolic religion, the 
serpent has occupied much religious attention. Some- 
times it is the representative of Good, but more often of 
Evil. Its noiseless movement, without apparent means of 
locomotion, symbolizes the action of celestial powers. The 
casting off of its skin in the renewal of its youth is a beau- 
tiful type of the resurrection of the dead, the immortality 
of the soul. But the darker side is conspicuous in its 
stealthy approach, and its deadly venom. 

The Egyptians, always sagacious in observation and 
correct in judgment, expressed these two conceptions of 
the serpent in a clear and a decided manner. In one case, 
the creature was petted and adored, as goodness ; in the 
other, feared and execrated, as evil. In a more general 
sense, especially in the later Empire, the serpent, with its 
spotted skin, represented the starry heavens or universe, 
the profound object of worship ; and, with its graceful but 
peculiarly geometric curve, strikingly illustrated infinity. 
The sacred Scriptures of Egypt are full of references to the 
serpent. * 

As astronomy sprang from the Nile, it is not aston- 
ishing that Herschel said of the chart of stars, first made in 
Egypt : " The heavens are scribbled over with interminable 
snakes." And mystics, who recognize a reason for things, 
are aware that each of these celestial snakes had its mis- 
sion, in the interpretation of mysteries, and formed part in 
those marvellous calculations, in the arcana of science. 
The skies are studded with animal forms, all of which 
were utilized in the secret schools of learned men. 

Serpejit Worship. 263 

On the monuments, the serpent is an important feature. 
Lord Lindsay, when in Egypt, was astonished at the ex- 
hibition. '' Serpents," says he, " of the most extraordinary 
forms are seen in every direction ; short, thick and hooded, 
or long and tapering, the latter often carried in long mys- 
tical procession, human heads surmounting their own, or 
female heads growing as it were on their backs, between 
each bearer. Belzoni's tomb is rich in serpents. I saw 
there a beautiful winged snake with three heads, and four 
human legs ; others had a head at each extremity, crowned 
with the corn measure and mitre, the body, curving down- 
wards, supported by four human legs ; others with four 
legs respectively. On each side of the descent to the 
sepulchral chambers of Ramses V. is a most magnificent 
snake with vulture's wings." 

Any one seeking to understand this Egyptian symbol 
should look at the beautiful alabaster sarcophagus in Sir 
John Soane's Museum, or procure the correctly illustrated 
description by Messrs. Sharpe and Bonomi, published by 

Serpent worship shared with sun worship the chief atten- 
tion of Egyptians. It was intensified in the latter times, 
when magic was all-prevalent. It continued to have an 
influence even in early Christianity. The Ophites, serpent 
adorers, were a Christian sect in the age so prolific of sects, 
the first four centuries of our era, when opinions were so 
diverse and so unsettled. But for the accounts preserved 
in the works of opponents, we should know nothing of the 
Ophites. As we cannot get evidence on the other side, we 
may suspend judgment in the case. 

Tertullian, of the early Christian age, is hard on them, 
saying : " They magnify the serpent to such a degree that 
they prefer him even to Christ Himself. They say that, 
considering his power and majesty, Moses planted or lifted 

264 Egyptian Belief and Mode^ni Thought, 

up the brazen serpent : — that even Christ, in His Gospel, 
imitates the sacred power of the serpent himself, in saying, 
' And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so it 
behoves the Son of Man to be lifted up.' This same beast 
they introduce to bless the Eucharist." Epiphanius writes : 
" That not only they break the loaves among which the 
serpent has wound itself, and that they give them to the 
assistants, who received them, but that every one bows to 
the serpent, and kisses it wath his mouth. They adore this 
serpent, and call what has taken place on the table, when 
it wound itself among the loaves which were offered, an act 
of thanksgiving, or consecration. They say, besides, that 
they address through it a hymn to the Heavenly Father, 
and thus bring to an end their mysteries." 

Augustine enters his protest against the Ophites. " Cer- 
tain believed," he says, "that the serpent who seduced 
Adam and Eve was Jesus Christ. But all the ancients 
agree that they fed a serpent or snake, which they used to 
tame, and that they caused it to come forth from the cavern 
where it lay hid, at the time when they wished to celebrate 
their wretched and mock Eucharist, and that they made it, 
by incantations, come upon the table on which they were 
celebrating, in order that it might lick up their offerings, 
and might coil around them ; after which, they used to 
break them to be their Eucharist, sanctified by the serpent 

The interesting thing about this Christian sect is its 
Egyptian character. In the old temples tame serpents 
were kept, and were suffered to coil about the sacred loaves 
kept on the sacred table, and which, when they had been 
consecrated to Isis, were eaten by the faithful as portions of 
their divinity. 

Whatever shape the serpent worship assumed under the 
New Empire, no one can doubt the place occupied by the 

Serpent Worship. 265 

symbol during the Ancient Empire, since it is discovered 
in tombs more ancient than the very pyramids, and was 
clearly associated with the gods. 

From our ignorance of the natural history of Egypt, 
we have a difficulty In the interpretation of animal repre- 
sentations, especially of the serpents. One, known as the 
urcsiis, in Egyptian tcrhek, is by some called an asp, and a 
cobra. It is erect, with the lower part in folds, and having 
a swollen neck. But Mr. Cooper, a judicious and accurate 
archeological scholar, says, " The asp being not a ura:ius, 
but a cerastes, or kind of viper." This cerastes is a two- 
horned viper. The asp has a thick body, blunt head, and 
scaly horns. The basilisk answers more to the tirceus, hcje, 
or cobra di capello. Clot Bey says it is not poisonous. It 
is the royal serpent, wearing the schent, having a ringed 
skin, inflated breast, and poisonous venom. It is the naya 
Jiaje. There is a harmless sort, having a slender, pointed 
head. Mr. Cooper speaks of the hof, " a large and uniden- 
tified species of coluber, of great strength and hideous 
longitude." One serpent, depicted on a monument, would 
be 150 feet long, if stretched out. Ha-ber, that holds up 
the terrestrial world In the lower heavens, is declared by 
the Ritual to be 450 cubits in length, and to fill all the 
lower heavens with its folds. Nehbka, says Pierret, " ap- 
pears to personify renewal of youth." The one, Bata, 
means " soul of the earth." The Har-em-hue-f could pene- 
trate the dead. 

While it is possible that the good and evil conceptions 
of the serpent were co-existent in the mind of primitive 
Egyptians, there is much evidence to show that the better 
side of the creature was the earlier maintained. The evil 
serpent is connected mainly with the Osiric myth. Those 
who regard that as a comparatively later religious develop- 
ment, and notice the increased proportions of the bad 

266 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

serpent under the New Empire, are slow to believe that 
the dark character was so old as the light one. It is 
certain that the more ancient the type of monument the 
greater is the relative amount of good serpents. 

The illustrations of the brighter side may be taken first. 

As the sun is good, and there is no antagonism observed 
between that and the uraeus, the latter, as the basilisk, 
may be accepted as good. Mr. Cooper writes : " The 
truth is that the sun has no connection with the asp, but 
only with the basilisk, and that chiefly because the serpent 
was regarded as his feminine sacta, or counterpart." The 
uraeus is round the disk of Horus, and forms the ornament 
of the cap of Osiris, as well as overhanging the brows of 
other divinities, male and female. With the solar disk it 
guards the portals of Hades. It is the companion of the 
blessed in Paradise, and guards them from the approach 
of evil. Twelve are seen together with the good people in 
the Elysian Fields. 

The Meissi, meaning the Sacred Word, was a good 
serpent. The serpent of goodness, with its head crowned, 
was mounted upon a cross, and formed a sacred standard 
of Egypt. It was the representation of Cneph, the creator. 
Isis reposes on a lotus between two of such ; which, also, 
served as emblems of the crowns of Upper and Lower 
Egypt. This sort was kept tamed in the temples, as in 
the temple of Zeus. One of them is pictured erect, with 
the legend of "god-goddess ;" that is, the hermaphroditic 
deity. Another, similarly upright, is called *' Lord of faces 
in transformation." This, too, represents the celestial 
course, or march of the heavenly bodies. One, having 
besides its own head a couple of human heads, is seen 
worshipped by three female figures. 

The winged serpents may be classed among the good 
ones. They are the seraphim. A heart is being presented 

Serpent Worship, 267 

to one by a priest. They are connected with the globe 
over the fronts of pubHc edifices. The frieze of the door 
of temples displays a winged globe, flanked by erect 
serpents. The Mehen, so often mentioned in the Ritual 
Scriptures, draws the sacred boat of the sun, to which its 
tail is attached. It thus represents the winding course of 
heavenly bodies. The Tes-her, according to Deveria, 
marks the divine force that carries on high. 

The good serpent holds up the disk in the lower regions 
in the tenth hour of its subterranean passage. It is this 
which bears the Cross of Life so often round its neck, 
entwined by its folds, or suspended from its mouth. It is 
the serpent exalted on the pole, the emblem of Ranno, the 
goddess of harvest, the female uraeus. It is that which 
rears as a canopy for the gods in the holy boat, and as 
still depicted over the Vishnu of India. The four-winged 
serpent is the god Chnuphis or Cneph, as a winged one is 
the goddess Mersokar, and the goddess Eileithyr. One 
with a female face bears the crown of Ra. The four-headed 
Mam-heru is the giver of light. One, embracing the sun, 
has a head at each extremity, with two crosses suspended 
from its body. 

The Nehbka has wings and the head of a man. It is the 
vivifier of the body of the dead ; or, as Pierret declares, 
is the symbol of eternal circulation. We read of the soul 
being transformed into Ba-ta, which is described in the 87th 
chapter of the Ritual as saying : " I am the serpent Ba-ta, 
of long years, soul of the earth, whose length is years, laid 
out, and born daily ; I am the soul of the earth." The 
god of the Nile is encircled by the serpent of eternal 

It is a good serpent that guards the gate of the sun's 
path, that coils round the scarabeus emblem of immor- 
tality in the solar boat, or that encircles the vulture-queen 

268 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

of heaven. A god with a head of four ursei marches to 
the fight against the evil serpent. NuJiab, upon four 
human legs, stands making an offering to the gods. The 
germinating serpent, with two human heads, and a tree 
growing out of its tail, symbolized the progress of the soul 
in the other life. The mystic tri-une basilisk represents 
the union of Osiris, Isis, and Horus. 

The serpent, or serpents, of evil cannot be forgotten. 

One, erect upon its tail, is called " Longflame ;" another, 
"Taker with his tongue;" a third, "Watcher;" a fourth, 
" Turner of destruction ;" a fifth, " Mistress of the burning 
wheel," etc. A four-headed one is styled " Flaming 
heads ;" and a very large one, " Living off fire." Fire, 
in fact, is most frequently associated with the bad serpents. 
They are the instruments employed by the gods for the 
punishment of sinners below. On the Soane Museum 
sarcophagus a deity holds a monstrous serpent, the fire 
from whose mouth he directs against some bad and bound 
men. A serpent, holding seven gods in its massive folds, 
is seen discharging flame upon twelve bound men, brought 
up by Horus for the treatment. Another picture has seven 
vipers in a row vomiting fire, like St. George's Dragon. 
These monsters are, also, beheld swallowing the wicked, 
especially those previously decapitated by Horus. 

Apoph, Apap, or Apophis is the representative of the 
evil serpent. He may be less a person, than the embodi- 
ment of physical and moral evil. 

This is the great enemy against which Horus is seen 
to contend, or pierce with his long lance. It may represent 
Typhon, the destroyer of Osiris, in his turn overcome by 
Horus. We see it attacked by the gods armed with knives, 
swords, or spears. Sometimes it rears against them as the 
dragon against St. George, or it is borne off in triumph, 
pierced with many weapons. It is beheld bound with 

Serpent IVoishp. 269 

cords, or chained with chains. Nine dog-headed gods 
charge it, armed with cross and rod ; reminding one of Job 
xxvi. 13: "His hand wounded the crooked (cowardly) 
serpent." This is the dire foe of the sun, fighting him by 
night in the lower hemisphere, but getting wounded in 
the seventh hour. Isis tries to keep it off from the sun. 

In a magic papyrus, Deveria reads : " Set, the asp, the 
ill-doing serpent, the water in his mouth is burning." It is 
as Set, the god of the Hycsos, or Shepherd Kings, that the 
Egyptians delighted to recognise Apophis, the enemy of 
gods and men. It is Set versus Osiris of the 94th chapter 
of the Ritual. In one picture he is seen as a great ser- 
pent trying, with two short arms, to pluck out the spear 
thrust in by Horus. We read of " the burnings of the 
serpent Set." 

With so great a horror of purgatorial fire, especially of 
the flame issuing from the mouths of the serpents of evil, 
the Egyptians were loud in their cries against Apophis, 
and eager to use any incantations to circumvent him. 
Magical papyri are filled with prayers, or charms, against 
him. The cry was " Let him be accursed !" " May the gods 
annihilate him !" " Write the name of Apophis on -his fore- 
arm!" "Put Apophis in the fire !" " O viper! advance not!" 

Mr. Sharpe writes : " The god Osiris standing as con- 
queror upon the serpent of evil, which may be considered 
as the earliest form of our well-known group of St. George 
and the Dragon, or holiness trampling down sin." Every 
good Egyptian took an intense interest in the encounter, 
and sought to imitate the god. On a tablet in the tomb 
a priest is made to say : " I have made sixty-four books to 
decapitate Apophis ; cast his soul into the fire, his body 
into flames, and his limbs into the Eye of Horus." Ruskin 
well says : " The true worship may have taken a dark form 
when associated with the Draconian one." In the 39th 

270 Egyptian Belief and Modern TJwught. 

chapter of the Ritual, the Oslrlan dead is represented as 
attacked by a serpent despatched by Apophis to destroy 
him in the Land of Shades ; and he exclaims, " Back ! 
back ! thou precursor, the sent forth from Apophis." An- 
other joyfully calls : " The Apophis is overthrown, and their 
cords are on it.'"' 

It is not very satisfactory to find that, though the evil 
serpent is so well speared, stabbed, cut with knives, bound 
with cords, chained to the earth's foundations, and other- 
wise severely treated by Horus, Isis, Osiris, and other 
deities, the fellow has more than nine lives, and is never 
killed outright. His head is but bruised ; and, though 
bound, there is always a fear of his escape again. As his 
body was said to be buried at the inundation of Egypt, he; 
may mean sterility and dryness. .-i 

Other Egyptian serpents are more curious than sugges- 
tive. Many are seen winged, man-headed, and inanriargg6d. 
Some have several heads, and two or four legs. .4-* ^^^^^^ 
human-headed serpent on four long thin legs of a* man is a 
spectacle common enough. Now and the:(i the serpent has 
a bird's head, or one belonging to a quadruped. One has 
five heads, a stout body, and a long tall ; another has three 
heads, a neck, and legs. A child is observed completely 
enclosed in the folds of a snake. Some monsters have 
human hands, as well as feet and heads. One of them is 
erect upon a crocodile's back. A two-legged one holds a 
vase in each' hand. Veiy rarely it is a man with a serpent's 
head. One serpent has a man's head, with a long feather. 
Isis is seen as half a woman and half a serpent. Disk- 
headed serpents are occasionally figured, being consecrated 
to the sun. Bearded serpents are rarely sculptured, though 
many are mitred. 

The serpent Sati, placed in the fourth abode of Elysium, 
is stated to be seventy cubits long ; it is employed to de- 

Serpent Worship. 271 

capitate the bad, whom it afterwards devours. Ruhak, in 
the seventh abode, seven cubits in length, indulges in a 
similar repast. It is a snake-headed god that binds 
Apophis. The serpent Nennut'i is preceded by twelve per- 
sonages in a procession ; while the legend is " human souls 
in hell." The winged asp was called AgathadcEinon by the 
Greeks. There is a serpent with a jackal head at the end 
of its tail, while above this monster are the eight gods with 
drawn swords. One picture is of a bull with a serpent's 
head. Another brings before us a huge creature in five 
great coils, each coil having twenty-four curves ; near it 
are twelve figures, six on each side. In a hymn to Amen, 
the serpent Naka is named. 

In the Ritual a worshipper cries out, " O serpent of 
millions of years, millions of years in length, in the quarter 
of the region of the great winds, the pool of millions of 
years." An interesting representation is given of an Osirian 
(dead man) engaged in the warfare with Apophis down in 
Amenti, the region of souls. He holds a net with which 
to ensnare the serpent. But above the head of the man is 
a winged disk, expressive of the help of Providence being 

Gods are often observed with snakes in their left hand, 
while the cross is in the right. Jahi is a serpent woman 
sometimes depicted on a coffin. Serpents standing on a cross 
are seen the objects of worship to men and women. One 
funeral slab exhibited no less than fifteen disked serpents 
all in a row ; while a dozen more were stretched beneath 
each other, and the Eye of Horus rested upon the whole. 
Elsewhere, eighteen, in two rows, are fronting the mystic 
vase. They are often pictured in coils upon altars. Very 
Singular forms are noticed : as, a serpent crossed by three 
others ; two upright ones, connected by a third ; or one 
making a cross with another. 

2^2 Egyptian Belief a7id Afoderri Thought. 

The caduceus of the Greeks Is seen on Egyptian monu- 
ments. The serpent twists round a rod In front of Osiris. 
Court de Gobelin says : " The serpents were with the 
ancients the symbols of time, of the year, and of seasons : 
the caduceus, composed of two serpents, was their relation 
to time." The caduceus is with Isis as well as Mercury. 
The serpents of the caduceus were male and female, and 
the point of union was termed the Nest of Hercules. Two 
circles were formed by the Intertwining, and were known as 
the sun and moon. 

Astronomical explanations of serpent worship are not 
wanting. In the caduceus, for Instance, the head and tail 
are called the points of the ecliptic, where sun, moon, and 
planets meet at the Nest. Hercules strangled two serpents 
In his cradle or nest ; this was the crossing of the serpents 
in the caduceus. Lenormant, who suspects the serpent a 
symbol of water or floods, says, '' It has a siderial and solar 
signification, while meaning the humid principle." The 
serpents In the Celestial Atlas have already been noticed. 
*' The Egyptian astronomers," says the authoress of " Maz- 
zaroth," " have always represented the serpent enemy in a 
state of humiliation, except It be in Scorpio ; " but there 
are other northern or elevated snakes. 

In Duncan's " Symbolism" are the following passages : 
" The three autumnal signs were Libra, Scorpio, and 
Sao-Ittarlus, under the whole of which is extended the long 
constellation Serpentarlus, or the man holding the serpent 
in his hands, otherwise called Ophluchus and ^sculaplus. 
In the same division of the heavens is placed the dragon of 
the Hesperidcs, appointed by Juno to protect the golden 
apples In her garden from the depredations of the daughters 
of Atlas. The very same reason, therefore, which Induced 
the Sabelsts to clothe the sun of the vernal equinox with 
the attributes of the ram and the bull, arrayed the sun of 

Serpent WorsJdp. 273 

the autumnal equinox with the attributes of the celestial 
serpent, which projected itself totally through the three 
autumnal signs." 

The geometrical explanation of the symbol is put forth 
by Mr. Wilson. The conoidal curve of the serpent is 
identical with the obeliscal curve, which so aptly typifies 
infinity. ''The serpent is," he says, "a circular obelisk. 
When with expanded wings, it shows the outline of an 
obeliscal or parabolic area, giving the periodic time of a 

Apophis may represent darkness, against which Horus 
the sun. is constantly and daily struggling, ever defeated, 
and ever conquering. It is the myth of Ahriman of Persia. 
In the Zendavesta, the great sun-god subdues "the 
homicidal serpent with three necks, with three heads, with 
six eyes, and with a thousand forces, — that remorseless 
god who destroys purity, that sinner who ravages the 
worlds, whom Ahriman created the chief foe of purity in 
the existing world, for the annihilation of the purity of the 
worlds." And yet Apophis is not Ahriman the Evil One, 
any more than he is the more modern Satan. The Star 
Serpent of the Avesta, '' who made himself a road between 
the sky and the earth," is probably the constellation Draco. 

The Assyrians, like the Egyptians, had the good and 
the evil serpent. Sur-mubel was the serpent of Bel. In 
the Apocryphal Book, Bel and the Dragon, some rather 
absurd features are presented, not quite reconcilable with 
Assyrian belief, but agreeable to Talmudic Jewish notions. 
Able to read the cuneiform, scholars have found cylinders 
descriptive of the two antagonists. The dragon is the 
goddess Thalatth, who, though the Evil Principle, seems to 
be Chaos. She has, on monuments, four clawed legs, a stiff 
tail, thin body, beaked head, and horns. Bel has seized 
one claw, and is about to send his sword into the foe. 


2 74 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thoitght. 

Etruria, once intimately connected with Egypt, had a 
being, half a woman and half a serpent, called Echidna, 
mother of the dog-headed Cerberus. Hesiod sang of — 

"Echidna, half a nymph, with eyes of jet, 
And beauty-blooming checks ; and half again 
A speckled serpent, terrible and va=t, — 
Gorged with blood banquets ; trailing her huge folds 
Deep in the hollows of the blessed earth." 

Her lover is the Typhon ''huge, ending in snaky twine." 
He is winged, his hair is of snakes, and his two extremities 
are twisted snakes, whose heads are his feet. 

India, the other ancient region, is the very land of 
serpent deities. The Patala under earth is one abode of 
serpent demons. Haslam, while admitting the association 
of evil with the serpent, implies that originally the creature 
was but the type of original matter. Vastore, the serpent, 
was the first created being. The dragon Kali is not a 
pleasant object. Vishnu, when a boy, killed the dreaded 
serpent Kaliya. But the god once became incarnate as 
the serpent Sesha. This was the chief of the Nagas that 
dwelt in the seven Patalas under the earth, and who had 
a thousand heads, on which were supported the seven 
worlds. All Nagas were held to carry jewels in their 
heads. But in the oldest Vedas no mention is made of 
this tribe of serpent deities. In Cashmere alone there are 
still seven hundred places of snake worship. 

One of the most ancient brazen serpents, if not the most 
ancient, may be seen in the Atmedan of Constantinople, 
forming a triple twisted column. It was set up there by 
Constantine, he having brought it from Delphi, where it 
was cherished as a great charm ; but before that it had 
been captured from the Persians in the battle of Platea. 

The serpent myth is an entrancing one ; but the limits 
of the present work forbid further allusions. Whether 

Serpent Worship. 275 

other nations, directly or indirectly, got their serpent 
worship from Egypt is more than can be safely affirmed ; 
but that it existed by the Nile five or six thousand years 
ago may be considered a fact. It is most probable that at 
first it was the symbol of eternity, infinity, and the endless 
renewal of existence. In this way it was the type of the 
glorious resurrection, the one great and comforting doc- 
trine of the very earliest historical period of Egypt. 


THERE can be no doubt about the prevalence of this 
faith in Egypt. The Tract Society's work on that 
country's rehgion supposes that the original settlers of the 
Nile left the plains of Shinar at the time when Baal, the 
sun, was worshipped, and so carried the solar deity along 
with them westward. 

Authorities are luminous upon the subject. Abbe 
Banier, with many others, considers the worship of the sun 
to be of northern origin, from a cold country ; saying : 
" Does he abandon the human race, — where winter is so 
short, and often more agreeable than summer ? " But 
Macrobius has the whole in a nutshell when he declares : 
*' All gods are only different powers of the sun." He, like 
a number of the moderns, would laugh at all mythologies. 

In the language of C. W. Goodwin, M.A., one is con- 
strained to admit that " the central doctrine in Egyptian 
religion was sun worship." Yet he adds : *' This religion 
appears to have been engrafted upon an elder one existing 
in Egypt, in the primeval period, and which probably con- 
sisted in the worship of ancestors." His learning affords 
an illustration. " A trace of this substitution of the solar 
religion for a prior one is found in one hymn (translated 
by Mr. Goodwin), where Amen, the sun, though celebrated 
as the creator of all things, is said yet to be begotten by 
Ptah, the primeval local god of Memphis. This agrees 
with the account of Manetho, who says that Hephaestus, 
that is, Ptah, was the first (god or king) of the Egyptians, 
and was celebrated as the discoverer of fire, from whom 
sprang the sun." 

Sun Worship. 277 

But that may mean that Amen was the Demlurgus son 
of Ptah ; and, therefore, he who begat the worlds. It may- 
mean that nature worship, as adoration to fire, preceded 
Ouranism, or the worship of the heavenly bodies. 

Macrobius thus alludes to a common representation : 
" The Egyptians, wishing to consecrate a statue to the 
sun under his proper name, have represented him with 
shaven head, with the exception of a tress of hair upon the 
right side, to show that the sun never absolutely hides 
himself from the eyes of nature, and that in the time even 
when he ceases to be visible to us, he preserves the hair, 
the faculty of coming again ; that which they explained by 
the cut hair, but whose root still remained." The modern 
Neapolitans believe in the growth of the sun's hair, and at 
the right time too. They have, it is said, an annual pro- 
cession, joined by civic officials, to the Church of the 
Carmine, on December 26th, to see the cutting of the hair 
from the head of some image. Their ancestors believed 
in the growing hair, or rays, after the winter solstice. 

Dr. Cudworth, writing under the disabilities and preju- 
dices so prevalent in England two centuries ago, is singu- 
larly liberal in his ideas, while philosophical in his reasons. 
He does not suppose the " learning of the Egyptians " was 
shown in the worship of the orb of heaven itself, but of 
something behind the object of sense. ''The sun," he 
observes, " was sometimes worshipped by the Egyptians 
under the name of Hammon ; it having been in like 
manner worshipped by the Greeks under the name of 
Zeus. Nevertheless, it will not follow from thence that, 
therefore, the visible sun was generally accounted by the 
Egyptians as the Supreme Deity, no more than he was 
among the Greeks." 

Two sources of information are open to us, — pictures and 
hieroglyphics. Able to read the inscriptions, Egyptolo- 

278 Egyptian Belief and Modeini Thonght. 

gists have given some citations from these monuments on 
sun worship. 

One of the most beautiful and poetic is given by Mari- 
ette Bey. Gross as it may seem, taken literally, it must 
be received in the view that learned man had of the 
ancient religion, when he said, " On the summit of the 
Egyptian Pantheon hovers a sole God, immortal, uncreate, 
invisible, and hidden in the inaccessible depths of his own 

The hymn, a very ancient one, is copied from the tomb 
of a scribe in the Necropolis of Memphis : — 

" Words pronounced in worshipping the sun, who rises 
for the creation from the solar mountain, and who goeth 
down in the divine life by the Osiris, the royal scribe, the 
chief of the house, Anaoua, proclaimed the Just. He 
speaketh : — 

" Hail to thee, when thou risest in the solar mountain 
under the form of Ra, and when thou goest down under 
the form oT Ma ! Thou circlest about the heavens, and 
men behold and turn toward thee, hiding their faces ! 
Would that I might accompany thy majesty when thou 
displayest thyself on the morning of each day! Thy 
beams upon the faces of men could no one describe ; gold 
is as nought compared to thy beams. The lands divine, 
they are seen in pictures ; the countries of Arabia, they 
have been numbered. Thou alone art concealed ! Thy 
transformations are equal to those of the celestial ocean ; it 
marches as thou marchest. Grant that I reach the land of 
eternity, and the region of those that have been approved ; 
that I be re-united with the fair and wise spirits of Ker- 
ncfer, and that I appear among them to contemplate thy 
beauty, on the morning of each day." 

The Papyrus of Naskhem, unearthed in the presence of 
the Prince of Wales when in Egypt, and translated by 

S2m Worship, 279 

Dr. Birch, is a Litany to the Sun. It belongs to the com- 
paratively modern times. Its title is " Beginning of the 
top of the West, and the commencement of total darkness." 
It describes the passage of the sun below in his baris or 
boat through the hours of night. He enters goat-headed, 
with the serpent Mahen in front, and with a hawk-headed 
steersman, the Charon Rhu-en-ua. There are twelve male 
and twelve female hours or divinities with Ra, the sun ; 
six of each now tow him in the boat. The eleventh is 
called " Lord of Light without darkness " ; the twelfth is 
" Lord of Joy." 

Pierret, in his " Dictionnaire d'Archeologie Egyptienne," 
declares that Amoun Ra "represents the invisible god 
taking body, and making himself visible to man under the 
form of the sun." Amoun, says he, " maintains each day 
by his providence " ; he " organises all things, and tramples 
on the earth ; he gives movement to all things which exist 
in celestial space ; he produces all beings, men, and ani- 
mals." He thinks that ''the Egyptians, explaining the 
divine immutability by a perpetual renewing, considered 
the sun as a perfect symbol of the divinity." Grebaut 
calls it " the sensible manifestation of divinity." 

" The rays of the sun," says Rouge, " as they awakened 
all nature, seemed to give life to animated beings. Hence 
that which doubtless was originally a symbol, became the 
foundation of the religion. It is the sun himself whom 
we find habitually invoked as the Supreme Being. The 
addition of his Egyptian name Ra, to the names of certain 
local divinities, would seem to show that this identification 
constituted a second epoch in the history of the religion of 
the Valley of the Nile." Pierret regards the role of Ptah 
as the earlier. 

As Tori or Chepi, the sun is the scarabeus, or self- 
engenderer, and the mystery of God. Chepi is the sun at 

28o Egyptian Belief and Modern TJioitght. 

the meridian, as Atoum is the evening, and Harmachus in 
the morning. A noble hymn to the sun is in a Berhn 
papyrus. It dates from the eighteenth dynasty, and was 
written by Papheroumes. The sun is there " sovereign of 

But the ''Ra Myth," by Mr. W. R. Cooper, F.R.A.S., is 
a treasure of learning upon the subject. It is worthy of 
attentive perusal. He shows that the Litany to the Sun 
is the longest Egyptian sacred writing next to the Ritual. 
This eighteenth dynasty work is not found complete. The 
best copy is on the tomb wall of Ramses II. of the nine- 
teenth dynasty, or Exodus period. Of the four chapters it 
contains, two are pure litanies, but the second and fourth 
consist of prayers only. The first chapter gives the seventy- 
nine phases or manifestations of the god Ra. The third 
chapter is of fifteen invocations to Ra, that he would come 
to the Osirian or deceased king ; as, '' O Ra, come to the 
king." The other parts are prayers for the deceased sove- 
reign in the other world. 

Some of the appellations are very beautiful, especially 
that of "sweetener of pain." Ra produces gods from his 
members. In the litany he takes the form of deities ; thus 
" Homage to thee, Ra ! Supreme Power, the great one who 
rules what is in him, his form is that of Nut." In like 
manner, he is Isis, Anubis, etc. He sends destruction, he 
creates sacred things, he is god of the furnace, the walker, 
he who makes the mummy come forth, the self-created, 
who dwells in thick darkness, who reveals secrets, the 
Father of the eternal Son, who has no equal, whose form 
is that of the invincible and the eternal essence, who is the 
Being with the mysterious face. 

Mr. Cooper supposes it " infused more with the idea of 
eternal essence than that of eternal personality"; but ad- 
mits that " all the deities and all things that exist, both 

Sim Worship, 281 

corporeal and Incorporeal, are but manifestations of him- 
self" (Ra). There is a distinctness of person, since he sees 
" his glory might be manifested in another deity, but could 
not be shared by another." 

He finds the myth " founded on the basis of a pure 
monotheism, with a tendency toward Sabsean illustrations ; 
and, like all the doctrines of the Egyptian Mythology, it 
was purest and grandest in its earlier stages of dogma." 
But his most important announcement is the following : 
" The cardinal doctrine of a resurrection of the soul and 
body was the chief cause of the Egyptian adoration of the 
sun, as the visible creator and resuscitator of the inanimate 
world." No writer has more clearly removed the obscur- 
ities besetting the sun myth. 

On a tablet, the sun is made to exclaim : " My father is 
Seb, my mother is Nut-her. Osiris who is in the western 
regions is my name. I am Horus substance of the sun." 
On another, he is said to be, " the Divine Youth, the 
substance of ages, the one who begat and gave birth to 
himself, the ruler of the empyreal gate, the one set over the 
region of Aukar " (Hades). On a twelfth dynasty monu- 
ment, Viscount Rouge found him called " The light of the 
world, the mother of the earth, the father of men, who 
illuminates the world by his love." 

Among petitioners to the sun, one exclaims, '' May he 
receive the saved soul into his hands ! " and another, 
" May he grant me a shining existence in heaven ! " 
A third cries, " Thou hast illumined the earth plunged 
into darkness ; thou softenest the grief of Osiris " (the 
dead). A fourth says, "Thou sheddest thy beams upon 
the back of thy mother ; thy mother, the sky, is stretch- 
ing out her arms for thee." The same idea is conveyed in 
" The gods stretch out their arms to them, when they are 
enfanted by thy mother Nout " (the sky). 

282 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thoitght. 

On one papyrus we have : " Fill us with thy splendours. 
We taste thy meat, we swallow thy drink, we revel in thy 
shining. Let us be near thee each day, and we shall not be 
turned from our progress onward." 

A document is headed : " Adoration of the sun by perfect 
souls." M. Deveria has this translation of the sun's story : 
" I manifest hidden things, I elucidate the mysteries, I 
give life to your souls. Your nourishment is in my bark. 
Your souls live there. There are waters for you at the 
station of the abyss. — Your souls follow my transforma- 
tions." He points out a curious figure, where the sun with a 
hawk's head is shedding light in the form of stars and red 
globules on a mummied body. A stele of the eighteenth 
dynasty, has the following prayer : '' Thou givest me glory 
in heaven, to be rich on earth, to come forth with thy 
servants daily ; my heart is tranquil through thy bread, 
receiving thy food at the gate of the house of obelisks, off 
the table of the god of Aur." Aiir in Hebrew is the sjlu. 

Chabas has translated another hymn : " Glory to thee, 
Ra, glory to thee, Toum, who comest again, crowned, 
powerful. Thou honourest the heavens, thou passest upon 
the earth, thou arrivest at the height of heaven in thy 
brightness. The two regions abase themselves before thee 
and glorify thee. The gods of the Amenti rejoice at thy 
beauties. Thou art adored by the mysterious dwellings." 

The sun in its power, and the sun in its decline, are 
therein named. Another address is very similar : " Hom- 
age to thee ! When thou circlcst in the firmament, the 
gods who accompany thee shout cries of joy." Our own 
Scriptures speak of the morning stars (gods) shouting 
for joy. One, given by an old Greek writer, may be 
suspected, as Greeks could not read hieroglyphics. There 
is, however, some truth in it. This is what is declared : 
*' O thou who whirl'st the radiant globe, rolling on golden 

Sun Worship. 283 

wheels through the spacious vortex of heaven, glorious 
Jupiter ! Thou sun, who art the genial parent of Nature, 
— Dionysus, father of sea and land." 

The Emperor Julian, whose Hymn to the Sun is one of 
the finest extant, clearly conveyed the mind of the ancient 
Egyptian adorers of the sun. A part of it runs thus : 
" Him, whom from eternity every generation of mankind 
has seen, and sees, and venerates, and by veneration lives 
happily ; I mean the mighty sun, a living, animated, 
intellectual, and beneficent image of the intelligible 
Father." He calls it the " uniform cause of all things." 

Owen Morgan, therefore, properly says, " It is a common 
error to suppose that the ancients worshipped the sun. 
They did nothing of the kind. They worshipped the 
eternal Spirit, which in Egypt went under the name of 
Osiris, and in Britain under the name of Celi (the co?i- 
cealccT) ; and regarded the sun as the first begotten of the 
Father, and of the inert confusion of matter." Even 
Svvedenborg was informed by the angels that " The Lord 
actually appears in heaven as a sun." 

The early Christians were charged with being a sect of 
sun-worshippers. There were many circumstances that 
gave a colour to the accusation, since in the second century 
they had left the simple teaching of Jesus for a host of 
assimilations with surrounding pagan myths and symbols. 
Still, the defence made by TertuUian, one of the Fathers 
of the Church, was, to say the least of it, rather obscure. 
''Others," wrote he, "believe the sun to be our god. If 
this be so, we must not be ranked with the Persians ; 
though we worship not the sun painted on a piece of linen, 
because in truth we have himself in our own hemisphere. 
Lastly, this suspicion arises from hence, because it is well 
known that we pray toward the quarter of the East." 

The Hindoo writings speak of the twelve sons of Adita 

284 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought, 

or space being the stations of the sun. In the Vedas we 
read : '' Let us adore the supremacy of the divine sun, the 
deity who illumines all, from whom all proceed, are reno- 
vated, and to whom all must return ; whom we invoke to 
direct our intellects aright in our progress to his holy seat." 
The Upanishad says, " It is I, O Brahma, who adore thee 
under the form of the resplendent sun. O sun, eternal, 
hearken to my prayer ! " The oldest Avesta oi the Per- 
sians — the Yasna — calls the sun without beginning and 

Kennedy tells us : " In the Hindoo religion, Surya (the 
sun) appears under two perfectly distinct characters ; the 
one as the Supreme Being, the other as an inferior deity, 
the regent of the solar orb." Julian, the Apostate, taught 
that " the original of all beauty and perfection, unity and 
power, produced from himself a certain intelligible sun, 
every way like himself, of which the sensible sun is but an 
image." The author of " Art Magic," after naming " the 
great Hindoo Messiah, the oft re-incarnated original of all 
the worshipped sun-gods of antiquity," speaks of the Egyp- 
tians in these terms : " All their grandest temples and 
priestly orders were devoted to the worship of the Spiritual 
Sim, of whom the majestic orb of day was but the external 
physical type." 

In such a spirit let us interpret the hymns to the sun. 
Amen, or Amoun, is one form of the sun. He is thus 
addressed at Thebes : " Thou art he that giveth bread to 
him that hath none. — Strong is Amen, knowing how to 
answer, fulfilling the desire of him who cries to him." 

Another hymn says : " Come to me, O thou sun ! Horus 
of the horizon ! give me help. Thou art he that giveth 
(help) ; there is no help without thee. Hear my vows, my 
humble supplications every day, my adorations by night, 
O Horus of the horizon (rising sun), there is no other like 

Sttn WorsJiip. 285 

him, protector of millions. Reproach me not with my 
many sins. I am a youth, weak of body." 

The Babylonian hymns to the sun have less feeling than 
those from the Nile men exhibit. The Assyrians were a 
powerful and not too sentimental class of conquerors. 
The word Shamas, commonly used for the sun, was changed 
to Alorus in Nineveh ; but the great appellation of the deity 
was Dian-nisi, judge of men ; which was afterwards Diony- 
sus the Demiurgos. The two oldest sun-temples were at 
Sippara and Larancha. Upon an Assyrian tablet is read : 
" To the sun, the supreme judge, the temple of Dianisi, in 
Babylon, in bitumen and bricks, grandly I built." This is re- 
corded to be an inscription by the great Nebuchadnezzar. 
Elsewhere the sun is called '* Destroyer of the wicked." 

Two Assyrian sun prayers contain more pious references. 
One is : " Sun, judge great of heaven and earth, judge 
him with judgment." This is a manly appeal for fair play 
to the deceased. The other is : " May the sun give life, 
and Murduk (Merodak, god of Babylon), eldest son of 
heaven, grant him an abode of happiness." Here is a 
distinct recognition of the office of the invisible sun, the 
spiritual sun, to grant life beyond the grave. 

The country between Egypt and Assyria was full of sun 
worship, as Bible records of Baal, the Bel of Babylon, 
sufficiently attest. There, too, the rites were more bloody. 
The kings of Moab, etc., are mentioned in Scripture as guilty 
of offering their first-born to their god. Carthaginian 
history has many striking examples of such sacrificing of 
children to the several sun divinities of the Phoenician and 
Asiatic mother country. 

Human sacrifices have been ever an accompaniment to 
sun worship, whether in Peru, Babylon, Arabia, or Egypt. 
On Nile monuments the god Ra, the sun, is depicted in 
the act of destroying men. 

286 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thottght. 

The Egyptian offerings, according to Plutarch, were burnt 
resin to the morning sun ; myrrh to the noontide orb ; and 
Kitphi, of sixteen different substances, to that body at 

Ha or HarmacJins was the deity of sun-rising ; Ra, ot 
noon ; and Toum, of sunset. But, as shown elsewhere, 
many gods besides these were solar divinities ; the chief 
h€m^Ainoun or Amciu Smith's " History of the East" 
lays it down that '' in all the varied combinations of the 
Egyptian Pantheon, the supreme god has, at least, some 
connexion with the sun." The so-called sun-child is the 
god Harsemto. The sun itself is often seen as a ram- 
headed man in a boat. The right eye of Horus is the sun. 

The eastward turning at prayer is naturally to be ex- 
pected of sun worshipping origin, and got to be adopted 
by all western Asiatic races. Ezekiel viii. 1 6 has a notice of 
this habit, not a commendable one : " Their backs toward 
the Temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east." 
At certain times in the service of even Protestant Churches, 
the adorer still turns toward the east. Rouge regarded 
the Great Pyramid as a sort of sun temple, because of its 
wonderful orientation. 

The word Pharaoh is Phra or Ra, the sun. The Pharaohs, 
like the Incas, were sons of the sun. The Greek Ptolemies 
afterwards claimed to be children of the sun. Menes, the 
founder of the monarchy, has a name meaning the sun. 
The setting sun was occasionally pictured as an old man 
leaning upon a stick ; and the morning sun, as a child. 
Deveria intimates that the sun was believed to rise on the 
rio-ht side of the universe, and set on the left. Macrobius 
affirms that the sun is of a blue colour below the horizon. 

On a stele is a picture of a sunset in a funeral scene. 
The sun, however, casts no rays. It is worshipped by two 
bird souls, one with a beard, and the other without ; the 

Swi Worship, 287 

male and female mourners. Omnipotence may be meant 
by the divine sun-boat, floating in space, with neither 
rudder nor oar. A picture gives the adoration of the sun 
by a god's head rising from a lotus flower. Four monkey 
deities are depicted in the act of sun worship. On a funeral 
tablet it is stated that the deceased lady was a " lover of 
the sun." The pylon or gateway of the temple was a 
symbol of the rising sun. The orb is represented as a man 
with a hawk's head, or with a double crown, or with the 
head of a scarabeus — the animal form most intimately 
associated with the sun. 

One representation is that of nine rays proceeding from 
the sun, with the cross between them and the kneeling 
worshippers. Incense was presented to the object of 
adoration three times a day. The bark or sacred boat of 
the sun, steered by the dead, is the Sekti. The Coptic 
word Pi-othiri, the sending out of heat, is used for Ra. 
The exaltation of the sun was in Aries, and the depression 
in Libra. Mu, light, is called the son of the sun. Pasht 
is called the cat of the sun, as the rat is darkness. Chons 
is the sun-headed deity, and Isis the daughter of the sun. 
Solar gods are hawk-headed. 

The Egyptians put a round, metal plate on the altars, to 
mark the constant presence of the sun. It was so in Peru. 
It is so still in some Christian churches ; the silver plate 
glitters on the altar, as a survival of Egyptian sun-worship. 
Under the new Empire, — from the eighteenth dynasty to 
Alexander the Great, — the worship was more direct than 
it had previously been. Yet the sun could not properly be 
deemed supreme, since he had a reputed mother in Neith, 
or other female divinity. A phallic idea is seen in a singu- 
lar passage from the Ritual : " The sun mutilated himself, 
and from the stream of blood existed all things." One 
curious pictorial view is that of the sun shining, with human 

288 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

hands at the termination of each ray. Bryant, the mytho- 
loglst, thought the religion was the worship of Ham, the 
son of Noah, since his name was Oum. The solar rays 
themselves, when three in number, were worshipped by the 
Egyptians, as they were by the Druids, forming the central 
idea and mystsry of Welsh Bardism. 

The Disk worship was almost peculiar to Egypt. The 
disk itself was the atcn or aten-nefru, the beautiful disk. 
Aten-Ra or Adonai, was god of the disk. It is also called 
the Hut, or Lord of Heaven. Socharis has a solar disk. 
The object is often seen in Hades, giving no light. The 
disk is common on the heads of deities and solar animals. 
It is sometimes put on the bull's back. The Hut or 
Tebhut is sometimes a winged disk. In the Ritual the 
disk is to be seen held up by a god, to be adored by 
four apes. 

Disk worship was new in the Ancient Empire. It seems 
to have popularly commenced with Amenoph III. in the 
eighteenth dynasty, and was not of native Egyptian growth. 
In short, the orthodox of the country regarded it as a 
heresy opposed to their gods. Sir Charles Nicholson is of 
opinion that " so far as regards the disk worship, the inno- 
vation may have been more of a ritualistic than of a dogmatic 
character." But in all ages change in the ritual has caused 
dissensions, like the divergence of creed. Mr. W. Osburn, 
1854, said it was a declaration against Amnion worship 
at Thebes. He did not consider it to be plain idolatry. As 
Amenoph III. is represented as very dark in complexion, 
some say, as an Ethiopian, he introduced a southern type 
of religion. We read of his having a barge of " the most 
gracious disk of the sun." 

A struggle evidently took place. There was the strife 
of creed. Amenoph attempted to banish all gods for his 

SiLii Worship. 289 

aten, or head-rayed disk. Dr. Birch, always as discreet 
as learned, treats the worship as a foreign element, and, 
therefore, unpopular in Egypt. It was the mark of the 
subjection of the people. He thinks that the reason why 
so little mention is made of it on monuments is, that 
the Egyptians hated it too well to desire mention of the 
symbol. He discovers symptoms of the existence of disk 
worship at intervals between the thirteenth and eighteenth 
dynasties. If so, the same race to which Amenoph III. 
belonged had before attempted, and partially succeeded in, 
the conquest of the country. " Whence came the Sabse- 
ism," says Birch, "that attributed to the solar disk the 
character of the universal Deity, the Demiurgus or creator, 
the beneficent power of nature, the rival or identity of 
Amen, does not appear." 

Representations exist of sunbeams on the heads of 
Amenoph, his wife, and his children. There is a prayer 
extant of his queen. She cries : " Thou shinest forth, O 
Lord, beneficent, the sun-king giving life for ever and ever, 
even the living disk of the sun ; no guide goes before thee 
when thou emittest thy beams. All eyes see clearly. All 
things in the world glorify thee." The king is " servant to 
the disk of the sun." 

We know that Amenhetp, which means the peace of 
Amen, changed his name to Khuenaten, the glory of the 
disk, and closed other temples than of this faith. Lenor- 
mant sees some resemblance between disk and Jewish 
worship. The new doctrine was abolished by Horus 
Haremhebi. '* If," says Mr. Robert Brown, Jun., " Aten 
represents the Adonai or Lord, the Assyrian Tammuz, and 
the Syrian Adonis, or not, at all events a new religious 
impulse and movement was attempted." 

Though the disk worshippers are seen to be swarthy, 
and not of the true Egyptian type, the " Ritual of the 


290 Egyptian Belief and Modeini Thottght. 

Dead " has repeated reference to them from an old date. 
The chapters 64, 129, and 133 are instances. The 64th, 
on "The manifestation of Hght," was known as early as 
the eleventh dynasty. Seti I. sits under the disk receiving 
offerings. As sun worshippers, the Egyptians cannot be 
supposed to have any particular objection to this ritualistic 
development. The opposition may have been to the 
symbol as a type of a hated foreign yoke. Anyhow, there 
is evidence that disk worship was not extinguished in 
Egypt till the time of the Csesars. 

Prof. Long of Cambridge thus sums up the sun theology 
of the Egyptians : " They thought the sun a proper repre- 
sentative of the Spirit of nations, or the God of the world, 
or Supreme Being, who is everywhere present." 

The Moon was less an object of veneration in Egypt 
than in some countries. Isis stands as its representative. 
The lunar gods are Thoth and Chons, having work in the 
underworld. The horned deities are lunar, as the horns 
with the head form a crescent, boat, ark, or curve of sacred 
mysteries, the emblem of femininity. The lunar god Aah 
presides at the renewal of things. Pierret notes that the 
moon, " by reason of its phases, is in perpetual relation, in 
the sacred texts, with the ideas of birth and renewal." 

But Plutarch is not correct in saying that " Osiris is the 
power and influence of the moon, and Isis the generative 
faculty in it." As the moon appears at night, it symbolizes 
the solar action in the land of shades, the nocturnal sun, 
the sun of the lower hemisphere, the pale sun of ghostland. 
Thoth*s wife Sfx is a supposed lunar goddess, bearing in 
her hand a pole with five rays. The conjunction of the 
sun and moon is beheld in the disk and crescent of 

In Babylon, as Rawlinson tells us, the moon was older 

Sun Worship, 291 

than the sun, and held in higher esteem ; for, was not 
darkness before light ? The Assyrian word for moon was 
Sin. Mount Sin-ai has been thought to be derived from 
that word. Certainly the hill was a sacred spot, and the 
meeting-place of tribes in pilgrimages, for many ages before 
Moses, especially as being the birthplace of Osiris. 

Because the crescent is now the standard of the Turks, 
it is conjectured by many persons that it was essentially a 
Mahometan ensign. On the contrary, it was a Christian 
one, derived through Asia from the Babylonian Astarte, 
queen of heaven, or from the Egyptian Isis, the model of 
Mariolatry, whose emblem was the crescent. The Greek 
Christian empire of Constantinople held it as their palla- 
dium. Upon the conquest by the Turks, the Mahometan 
Sultan adopted it for the symbol of his power. Since that, 
the crescent has been made to oppose the idea of the cross. 


THE rows of sphinxes leading the worshipper up to 
the temple were well calculated to impress him with 
awe, and prepare him for the solemnities of worship. This 
union of two creatures, man and lion, has been an enigma 
for ages ; to this day, a sphinx means a puzzle. Plutarch 
affirmed that in his belief the Egyptians did not know the 
meaning of it, unless to contain the secrets of wisdom under 
enigmatical forms. Clemens Alexandrinus, the Christian 
Father who lived amidst these symbols, tells us that their 
intention was ^' to declare that the doctrine concerning God 
is enigmatical." But to expect reliable information from 
Greeks is in vain, and to trust to their explanation of the 
religious customs of others is equally vain. 

For a while one old story of the Greeks was received, 
that the sphinx or sesheps was designed to typify the 
attractiveness of vice in the smiling female face, and, in 
the presentation of lion's claws, fierce vengeance following 
its pursuit. But the facts were too much for the theory. 
The Great Sphinx by the Pyramid, long esteemed for its 
feminine character, was at last detected to be masculine. 
When the sand which had encumbered it was removed, 
portions of the fallen beard from the stony monster were 

But fuller particulars of the Sphinx are given in the 
author's " Pyramid Facts and Fancies." As sphinxes are 
usually in pairs, one naturally asks where the fellow of this 
is ? The Egyptian for sphinx is neb, Lord. Only one 
female sphinx is known, supposed to represent the female 

sphinx Religion. 293 

The religious bearing of the Great Sphinx cannot be 
gathered from explorers finding a miniature temple between 
its paws, and sundry tablets, referable to gods, about it 
below. All these were of comparatively modern date, only 
some 3000 years ago. But the sphinx itself is of far 
greater antiquity. That others should consecrate it by the 
erection of the little temple between its paws is no necessary 
argument for its sacred character, though the presumption 
is that King Amenotoph acknowledged it as hedged in by 
some divinity. Colonel Pearce finds the sphinx of Egypt 
on the Pagoda of Juggernaut. The avatar of Vishnu, 
Nara-sing, is a reversed sphinx : as the body is that of a 
man, and the head is of a lion. Those who have identified 
it with sun worship say it typifies sunrise, when the orb 
bursts forth with the vigour and strength of a lion. The 
sphinx was certainly at Persepolis, the especial locality of 
Sabaeism. Two lions, disinterred from the foot of the 
Great Sphinx, by Caviglia in 18 18, are now in the British 
Museum. A colossal Osiris was found in the neighbour- 
hood ; it was composed of twenty-eight pieces, the number 
of the years of the god. 

The recent progress of Egyptian discovery, particularly 
under the regime of Mariette Bey, appears to throw new 
light upon the subject of sphinx religion. A votive 
pyramid of immense antiquity has been recovered from 
Saqqarah, on one side of which is a dedication to Har- 
machus, the sphinx deity. 

At the foot of the three small pyramids of Gizeh is 
a part of an old wall. A stone was seen therein bearing 
some curious hieroglyphics. When read, the following re- 
markable announcement came : — 

*' The place of the sphinx of Hor-em-Khou (Armachus) 
is to the south of the temple of Isis, rectress of the Pyj^amid, 
and at the north (of the temple) of Osiris, Lord of Rosatou. 

294 Egyptian Belief and Modern Tlwtight. 

The paintings of the god of Hor-em-Khou are conformed 
to the prescriptions." It further states that the king Cheops 
restored the sphinx. 

This clearly identifies the Great Sphinx with Egyptian 
deities. As a doubt may arise in some minds as to the 
age of this curious stone tablet, Mariette Bey judiciously 
remarks : " Whether the stone be a contemporary of Cheops 
or belongs to a posterior date, it is not less certain that 
Cheops (builder of the Great Pyramid) restored a temple 
already existing, assigned to it revenues in sacred offerings, 
and renewed the personnel of the statues of gold, silver, 
bronze, and wood, which ornamented the sanctuary." 

A tablet recovered from a well gives express particulars 
of Suphis, identified as Cheops, doing all that Mariette 
describes, and, particularly, repairing the sphinx. This 
structure, then, is doubtless older than the Great Pyramid 
itself, and is associated with a temple and various divinities 
honoured at that epoch. But where were the temples 
which Cheops restored and adorned } Where, above all, 
was the temple of Hor-em-Khou, of the sphinx t 

A few years ago Mariette Bey had the good fortune to 
drop upon this temple, long buried in the sand, close to 
the sphinx, and near the Great Pyramid. Of all th^ 
wonders of Gizeh witnessed by the writer, that of the so- 
called sphinx temple was not the least important and 

Lepsius writes, " It is named Har-em-chu, ' Horus in the 
Horizon,' that is to say, the sun-god, the type of all things, 
and Harmachus, in a Greek inscription before the sphinx." 
The sphmx then is the god Harmachus, or Horns in the 
Horizon, a form, it may be, of Ra, the sun-god, and it means 
the risen god. But the German savajtt goes on to say, 
" The CEdipus for this king of all sphinxes is yet wanting. 
Whoever would drain the immeasurable sand which buries 

sphinx Religion, 295 

the tombs themselves, and lay open the base of the sphinx, 
the ancient temple path, and the surrounding hills, could 
easily describe it." 

On tablets we read prayers like these : " O blessed 
Ra Harmachus ! Thou careerest by him in triumph. O 
shine Amoun-Ra-Harmachus self-sprung!" Brugsch, in 
speaking of Harmachus, says : " The great bearded sphinx 
of the Pyramids of Gizeh is its symbol ; the same as 
each Egyptian Pharaoh who bore, in the inscriptions, the 
name of " living form of the solar sphinx upon the earth." 
St. Hilaire, the friend of Thiers, wrote from Egypt : " It 
appears certain that the sphinx was an idol." Prof. 
Smyth calls it an idol, having "symptoms typifying the 
lowest mental organization," and " positively reeks with 
idolatry throughout its substance," inasmuch as its stone 
beard was found " full of the impure Egyptian gods." 

M. Renan, the orientalist, visited the newly discovered 
temple of the sphinx in 1865. He declares it " absolutely 
different from those known elsewhere." He says : " The 
edifice is not yet cleared as to the interior. That interior, 
which much recalls the chamber of the Great Pyramid, is 
in the form of T- The principal aisle is divided in three 
rows, the transverse aisle in two." He was much astonished 
to find "not one ornament, not one sculpture, not one 
letter." He was reminded of an ancient writer, who de- 
clared that at one time the Egyptians were said to have 
temples without sculptured images ! 

He then goes on to say : " And were not these edifices 
like that of which we are speaking, that Strabo had in view 
when he said that ' at Heliopolis and at Memphis there are 
edifices of a barbaric order, with several ranges of columns, 
without ornament and design ' } Here is one of these 
primitive temples, absolutely unique monuments, and 
separated by an enormous interval from the temple of 

296 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

the classical period of the Amenophis and the Thouthmes. 
The exterior is yet hidden by the sand. It is in enormous 
blocks of limestone, and recalls to mind, by the mode 
of construction, tJic chapel which is in front of tJie Second 

Well might he gaze with wonder upon this venerable 
building, only from twenty to thirty yards from the mys- 
terious sphinx itself, and being but one hundred feet 
square in size. He then proceeds to the important ques- 
tion : "Who built it.?" His answer is explicit: "It is 
Cephren, the third king of the fourth dynasty, the suc- 
cessor of Cheops, who raised it." 

But what proof does he bring .? There is but the fact, 
that, when the sand was removed, a pit was discovered in 
the temple, from which among other astonishing monuments 
of the past — the very remote past — an image of Cephren 
was brought. This statue, so ancient, was in as fresh and 
unmutilated a condition as when first from the hands of 
the artist. With nothing conventional about it, it represents 
naturally a kingly-looking personage, who might, from his 
features, be taken for an Englishman. As a work of art, 
it is superior, perhaps, to anything wrought by the Egyp- 
tians in the height of their glory. Doubtless, in some 
terrible political convulsion of the country, the priests of 
the temple put this monument and some valuable tablets 
into a pit for concealment The secret was so well kept 
that these articles were never disturbed till a few years 

It is certain that the statue is of Cephren of the Pyramid 
times, in some way, perhaps, the patron of the sphinx 
temple. But there is no evidence of his being its con- 
structor. It is, in all probability, much more ancient than 
his day. Well, then, may some style it, " the oldest 
religious monument in the world." 

sphinx Religion. 297 

Doubts have been thrown out as to its being a temple 
at all. It may have been a mausoleum. Even Mariette 
said : " The exterior appearance is, we must declare, rather 
those of a tomb. Further, the monument may present 
itself to the visitor as a mastaba, hardly greater than those 
we find, for example, at Abousir and at Saqqarah. In the 
interior a chamber shows six superposed niches, which 
have the air of being constructed, as those of the Third 
Pyramid, and of the Mastabat-al-Faioum, for receiving 

Mr. Fergusson inspected it as an architect, admiring 
its simple, grand, yet chaste style. Polished granite and 
beautiful alabaster form its sides. He might reasonably, 
at first sight, conclude it could not be a temple ; for he 
tells us : " No sculptures or inscriptions of any sort are 
found on the walls of this temple, no ornament or symbol, 
nor any image in the sanctuary." But it is now pretty 
well understood that primitive temples in all lands were 
devoid of image worship. He noticed the fact of its hav- 
ing no roof But it is equally clear that primitive temples 
were open to the skies, like our own Stonehenge. 

The fact of no remains of a roof being found is the 
strongest possible argument in favour of its being a temple, 
and not a tomb. M. du Barry Merval calls it a votive 
chapel belonging to Cephren, and so a dependency of the 
Second Pyramid. 

That which astonished Mr. Fergusson, and strikes others 
with a sort of awe, is the form of the building. " The 
principal chamber," says he, "IN THE FORM OF A CROSS, 
is supported by piers, simple prisms of Syenite granite, 
without base or capital, and supporting architraves as 
simple in outline .as themselves." But the cruciform 
character of the temple, which has descended to churches 
of Christendom to our own day, simply testifies to the very 

298 Egyptian Belief and Modern TJwicght. 

ancient veneration paid to the symbol of the cross in 
Egypt, as in India, Peru, etc. 

As the presence of the name of a king on a statue is no 
guarantee that it is a representation of himself, but of some 
one before him, or of some deity taken under his patronage, 
so it has been suggested that the splendid figure found in 
the pit, was not that of Cephren, the king, but of the god 
Harem-chu, or Horus in the Horizon. 

Believing it to be a temple, Renan asks, " To whom was 
the temple dedicated t " This is his reply : " Without 
doubt to the sphinx, or, rather, to the divinity repre- 
sented by the sphinx, Horem-hou or Armachis. The 
temple, it is true, does not directly face the sphinx ; but 
the entrance passage inclines by design toward the colossal 

He may, therefore, well conclude, '* This great Hon. or 
sphinx appears thus the most ancient idol in the world." 
If it be to " Horus in the Horizon," or rising sun, the 
temple was, like Stonehenge, dedicated to the sun, the 
visible producer of earthly things, and the best represen- 
tative of the Unseen Snn, the First One, the benevolent 
Creator. "When Cheops," as Renan reports, "4500 years 
before Jesus Christ, repaired it," we may conclude indeed 
that the sphinx temple is the oldest existing place of 

How came the winged sphinx of Greece ^ It seems to 
have originated from the Akr, or hawk-headed Egyptian 
sphinx, which had wings. Rawlinson concludes the Greek 
winged one to be partly Egyptian and partly Phoenician. 

Rouge detects on an Edfou inscription a singular 
reference to the sphinx. In the story of Horus, on that 
temple, the god is said to have taken the shape of a human- 
headed lion to gain advantage over his enemy, Typhon. 
Certainly, Horus was so adored in Leontopolites. He is 

sphinx Religion. 299 

the real sphinx. That accounts, too, for the lion figure 
being sometimes seen on each side of Isis, and even in her 
hand. It was her child. 

Pierret affirms that it was " particularly consecrated to 
the representation of a king," who was the image of Horus 
on earth. The Great Sphinx looks to the east ; where 
Horus has a right to expect the re-appearance of his 
deceased father, and where the departed king will equally 
appear at his resurrection. While to the north of the 
great image a temple to Isis was anciently raised, one to 
Osiris existed to the south. 

Once the image may have had a crown. Miss Edwards 
calls attention to Vedder's picture of the Secret of the 
Sphinx, showing an Egyptian putting his ear to the stone 
lips. " Fellah and sphinx," says she, " are alone together 
in the desert. It is night, and the stars are shining. Has 
he chosen the right hour t What does he seek to know t " 

But it is highly probable that sphinx worship is but a 
variety of the solar one, and intimately connected with 
king worship; "intended," says Mr. W. R. Cooper, "to 
represent the king under the form of the Egyptian deity, 
Ra Harmachus." 


THE story of Cleopatra's Needle has popularized the 
obelisk. But some may wonder what it has to do 
with religion. The fact is, that there is little that has not 
been pressed into the service of the gods by the venerating 
Egyptians, those lovers of ritualism and symbolism. 

The presence of the obelisk in pairs at the entrance 
of temples might mark the sacred character. This is not 
confined to Egypt, since the object is found in India, 
Assyria, and Persia, while one discovered at Xanthus has 
recently furnished a discourse to Dr. Birch. The Rev. A. 
H. Sayce speaks of one at Nimroud, of black basalt, erected 
to record the victories of Shalmaneser ; saying, " Cities to 
a countless number I captured." As the image set up by 
this king, it suggests the image of Nebuchadnezzar. This, 
as described in Daniel, gives the exact relation of height 
and breadth marking all obelisks. 

If Nebuchadnezzar's image were an obelisk, the reason- 
ableness of the opposition made by Shadrach, Meshach and 
Abednego becomes the more apparent. An obelisk was 
not only representative of the divinity of the sovereign 
himself, but bore idolatrous emblems. To bow to it, was 
an acknowledgment of the false gods, and a recognition of 
Nebuchadnezzar as a god. It was to sustain Babylonian 
idolatry, and Babylonian king-worship. Captain Selby 
found near Babylon, on the " Waste of Dura," the remains 
of a pyramidal column, which some identify with the image 
once covered with gold. As Mr. Bonomi points out, the 
proportions, 60 cubits long by 6 broad, are not those of a 
man ; but they are those of an obelisk. 

Obelisk Worship. 3c i 

These several purposes were served by obelisks in Egypt. 
They were erected by kings. They are placed before the 
temple they erected, or honoured. They bore the sculp- 
tured signs of idolatry. They told of the kings' victories, 
rehearsed their divine qualities, and made monumental 
prayers to these early deities. All who bowed to them 
supplicated the gods, and supplicated the king. The 
reader is referred to the chapter on King worship for fur- 
ther explanation. 

The obelisk, by having a parallelogram base, and coming 
to a point, may seem to be related to the pyramid. Father 
Kircher, the ingenious but mystical Jesuit, derived both 
from a common word, meaning columns of fire. " It has 
been the custom," says he, " of nations to raise to their 
divinities altars of stone and marble. Such were the altars 
of the Egyptians, which we know under the name of pyra- 
mids and obelisks, and which were raised in honour of their 
gods." Abenesi, the Arab, centuries before had the same 
thoughts : observing, " The priests of Egypt erected these 
elongated stones in the form of needles, and of a round 
figure ; they engraved there in mysterious characters the 
secrets of their philosophy, and called them the altars of 
their gods." 

Their tapering form led some to esteem the obelisk a 
symbol of fire ; and, therefore, a dedication to the sun. 
Jahn, the commentator, writes : " We learn from 2 Chron. 
xxxiv. 4-7, that these obelisks were erected on the altars 
of Baal ; they were, of course, dedicated to the sun.'-' The 
common references they have engraved upon them to Ra 
and Toum, the sun gods, help to confirm the argument. 
Pierret says : " The erection of obelisks was in relation to 
the worship of the sun." Rouge notes some pictured sacred 
monuments on an inscription of the fifth dynasty ; " of 
which," says he, " the figure proves that the pyramid and 

302 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought, 

the obelisk had primitively a relation to the worship of 
the sun." 

Other writers held them to be of phallic origin. An 
article in the Builder oi 1877 has this sentence: "Many 
well meaning and spotless people who will, probably, in- 
quire of better informed friends about the origin and early 
use of the obelisk, will be sadly shocked when, from some 
outspoken reply, they learn the truth." It was said that 
the lingam was to the Hindoo, what the obelisk was to 
the Egyptian ; it typified generative force. But, if so, indi- 
rectly, its very complicated and geometrical figure forbids 
the supposition of a direct meaning of that nature. There 
are, at any rate, other interpretations. 

Rouge, indicating the worship of the obelisk, connects 
the phallic idea with that of Osiris. " The obelisk," ob- 
serves he, " has been venerated as a divine symbol. Thus, 
at Karnac, the foundations were instituted in honour of 
four obelisks, and they are offered bread, libations, etc. 
Upon certain scarabei one sees, in fact, the following repre- 
sentation, — a man adoring aji obelisk ; that circumstance 
has not been sufficiently remarked. The comparative 
study of these little monuments proves that the obelisk 
has been venerated because it was the symbol of Ammon 
generator. If one compares the series of scarabei bearing 
this scene, and which have been with so much care re- 
united in the glass case R, of the Salle des Dieux at the 
Museum of the Louvre, one would see that the obelisk 
passes insensibly from the ordinary forms to that of the 
phallus : it is, then, truly as the symbol of the ithyphallic 
god that the obelisk received homage." 

Another notion was that the obelisk, as the pyramid, 
symbolized the law of gravitation. The author of the 
** Solar System of the Ancients Discovered," is an advocate 
for this opinion ; saying, *' The Sabeans worshipped these 

Obelisk Worship. 303 

symbols of the laws of gravitation, which govern the 
glorious orb of day, the planetary and astral systems." 
Made of granite, they exhibited the durability of those 

Some of the Fathers, as Tertullian, charged the Egyp- 
tians with worshipping them as emblems of the sun. " As 
a sunbeam," says Dr. Yates, " was an emanation from that 
resplendent orb which was regarded as the representative 
of the deity, so a pointed obelisk would allegorically denote 
such an emanation." None being on the western or pyra- 
mid side of the Nile, but only on the sunrising side, would 
seem to aid the solar theory. The gilt top, spoken of as 
having once been seen, would thus symbolize the yellow 
ray. Obelisks are seen, like rays, placed round heads, to 
express deification. 

Bonomi, who makes mention of forty-two obelisks, when 
describing the pretty tekheUy mem, or obelisk of Amenoph 
III. of the eighteenth dynasty, now in Alnwick Castle, is not 
ignorant of the astronomical learning it represented, and 
thus traces astronomy to its source : " The instruction in 
that science which was given to Adam by the Creator 
Himself, and of which these most ancient and interesting 
monuments of human genius exhibit, perhaps, but a feeble 
manifestation." So the Egyptians thought when they 
ascribed their knowledge of the stars to the god Thoth. 

The religious teaching of the obelisk about the gods of 
the land is given in the hieroglyphics. Citations, under 
the head of " King Worship," confirm one branch of idol- 
atry. Thothmes III. erected his obelisk to Ra and Toum, 
deities of the rising and setting sun. Dr. Erasmus Wilson, 
the patriotic and generous remover of the English obelisk, 
or Cleopatra's Needle, from Alexandria, has an account 
of the one central column bearing that monarch's record. 
"The engraved square," he says, ''on the pyramidion re- 

304 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

presents the Pharaoh, Thothmes III., kneeling before the 
deity of the sun, offering gifts, and suppHcating the bless- 
ing of a strong and pure life. The hieroglyphics expres- 
sive of his prayer are displayed above the figures of the 
beseeching potentate and the enthroned deity." On the 
top of the shaft is the hawk of Horus. 

The fine one at Paris was dedicated by Ramses II. 
to the god Horus ; calling him " the sun Horus, with the 
strength of the Bull." This is an allusion to his creative, 
demiurgic powers. 

The one still standing at Heliopolis, 60 feet high, and 
6 feet broad, was dedicated, says Gliddon, to the mother 
of the king, " beloved, exalted to the upper regions of 
eternity." Though now " inheriting the eternal region," 
we are told " she was a chief bard of the sun." 

Rosellini thus transcribes one side of that at Heliopolis ; 
" The Horus (living of men) Pharaoh, sun offered to the 
world. Lord of Upper and Lower Egypt, the living of 
men, Osirtasen, beloved of the spirits in the region of Pone, 
ever living, life of mankind, resplendent Horus, beneficent 
deity, sun offered to the world." This is a singular jumble 
of man exaltation and god honouring. Osirtasen was 
once judged a contemporary of Joseph, but is now recog- 
nized as above a thousand years before. 

The Flaminian, at Rome, further described in the 
author's " Pyramid Facts and Fancies," represents the king 
kneeling to Toum, the setting sun, offering pyramidal cakes. 
He asks " Give me a life strong and pure." The god re- 
plies, " We, Atom, Lord of Heliopolis, the great god, give 
thee the throne," etc. 

As to the obelisk being a religious symbol, a good ex- 
planation is given by Mr. Wilson in his " Solar System," 
He accepts it as the emblem of eternity. 

He perceives a number of sacred objects, in Egypt and 

Obelisk Worship. 305 

elsewhere, having the figure of conic sections ; especially, 
the parabola and hyperbola. There are eight gods seated 
on hyperbolic steps, decreasing in the order of i, i, \, etc. 
Some Round Towers of Ireland expand toward the base 
as section of a hyperbolic solid. Buddha, as he sits cross- 
legged, is a hyperbolic solid. The obelisk presents the 
same curve, having the property of the sides ever approach- 
ing the parallel, yet never being parallel. This ever 
marching to a non-realizing end is a fitting emblem of 
Eternity. His explanation is as follows : — 

"The opposite sides of the single obelisk (taking the 
ordinary one as double) will continually approach to 
parallelism, but which they will never attain ; for how 
great soever the sectional axes, or the sum of two ordinates, 
may be, still this difference will equal unity ; so the sides 
of the sectional obeliscal area can never become parallel 
to the axis." 

But he sees the symbol in the whip of Osiris ; saying, 
"The planets are urged onwards in their orbits by laws 
indicated by the obelisk." Again : " When the axis 
bisects the obeliscal area, and another straight line drawn 
from the apex represents the axis of the pylonic area, we 
have what is commonly called the flail or whip of Osiris." 
The cap of Osiris is the hyperbolic and parabolic conoid, 
representing eternity. He calls the pschent of Osiris, 
"the hyperbolic reciprocal curve." The beards of the 
Assyrian monuments, so evidently conventional, are of the 
obeliscal form, typifying the same dogma. The wings of 
Mercury, the prongs of the trident, the shape uf the serpent 
and crocodile, and the horn of Isis tell the same tale. The 
horn of Jupiter Ammon, giving name to the shell fish 
Ammonite, is nothing but a spiral obelisk. 

The obelisk, therefore, as the " Finger of God," points 
upwards to heaven as the region of Infinity and Eternity. 



ALTHOUGH some portions of this subject have been 
treated in " Pyramid F'acts and Fancies," further 
information may be supphed. 

This is not the place to discuss the theories of Prof 
Piazzi Smyth, they being considered in the author's other 
work. It has been asserted that the Great Pyramid, and 
that one only of the many constructed, as old as, or older 
^than, itself, was divinely inspired to masonify certain im- 
portant truths, to be kept secret till our own day. It was 
to teach the date of the birth of Christ and of the Mil- 
lennium, besides setting forth a number of other religious 
mysteries. To all this, the Atlmtmtm of January last 
says : — 

" It is assumed, not proved, that the Pyramid was built by 
revelation, and that accepted, all consequences are derived 
from it. . . . Noah or Melchisedec is credited with its 
erection ; the impious Cheops, as much an idolater as any 
of his predecessors or successors, is the polluted source to 
which, in their eyes, this standing miracle of construction is 
due. . . . Nodoubt this manipulation of pyramid figures 
may afford religious or other consolation to some minds, 
to others it will appear a craze of a very mischievous 
tendency. ... It seems as though some were groping 
in the dark after a mathematical religion, and that they have 
found in the Great Pyramid the object of their idolatry, 
to the worship of which they bow with all the fanaticism of 
an adorer of the Caaba." 

Dismissing, therefore, the supposed Christian teaching of 

Pyramid Worship. 30 7 

this particular monument, let us turn to other notions of a 
religious character concerning it. 

The Great Pyramid, from its more ^xact orientation, has 
been regarded as peculiarly a temple of the sun. Bryant, 
the Mythologist, asserts it " was undoubtedly nothing else 
but a monument to the deity whose name it bore ;" and 
" it was (as Doiiuls Opis Scrpeniis) the name of the pyramid 
erected to the sun, the ophite deity of Egypt." Pilgrimages 
of Sabaeans, or sun-worshippers, are reported by even 
Mahometan historians. Soyuti, as before named, wrote 
about their sacrificing hens and black calves to it. Murtadi 
tells a similar story. A traveller reports finding men in 
Oman, Arabia, with a lingering faith in sun and fire- 
worship, who paid reverential respect to figures of the 

Fellows, writing on Freemasonry, regards the pyramid 
as '' a pedestal to the sun and moon, or to Osiris and Isis, 
at mid-day for the one, and at midnight for the other, 
when they arrived at that part of the heavens near to 
which passes the line which separates the northern from 
the southern hemisphere." An American mystic, named 
Stewart, remarks that the pyramid twice a year would 
have no shadow. " The sun would then appear," he says, 
exactly at mid-day upon the summit of this pyramid ; 
there his majestic disk would appear, for some moments, 
placed upon this immense pedestal, and seem to rest upon 
it, while his worshippers, on their knees, extending their 
view along the inclined plane of the northern front, would 
contemplate the great Osiris, as well when he descended 
into the darkness of the tomb as when he arose trium- 

But this curious fact, occurring at the equinoxes, leads a 
foreign mystic to another thought about the Pyramid. 
" Its apex," he says, '' represents the phallus, the sign ever 

oS Egyptian Belief and Alodern Tlwnght. 

deemed throughout the East the symbol of deity, or the 
creative principle. The descent of the sun upon its apex 
at the two solemn epochs of the year, which signify life 
eternal, and death through the ever-constant adverse prin- 
ciple of evil, completes the series of allegorical ideas which 
this building was designed to celebrate." 

M. Rouge writes : " The perfect orientation had never- 
theless caused a suspicion that their form was not without 
connection with the worship of the sun." In another place 
he finds that which " shows clearly that the pyramid and 
obelisk had primitively a connection with the worship of 
the sun." In the same way Maurice discovered that 
" pyramidal temples symbolized the worship of the solar 
ray." Wilson's " Solar System of the Ancients " describes 
the buildings as " temples of a remote epoch, where man 
adored the visible symbol of nature's universal law, and 
through that the invisible God of creation." Lepsius found 
solar symbols of the seasons on the stones of the Great 
Pyramid of Dashour, dating from the third dynasty, or 
over six thousand years old. 

Again, Dufeu notes the connection of pyramids with the 
sun. " The exact orientation of these monuments," says 
he, " and the inclination of their faces to the horizon, the 
the little votive pyramids found in catacombs, and carrying 
tiie image of that divinity, and his symbol, which was a 
triangle beside a cross and a star, have made modern 
authors imagine that there existed a connection between 
the form of pyramids and the position of the sun in the 
heavens, and that the pyramids were immense tombs de- 
voted to an astrological deity, of whom the sun was the 
sacred star." 

The votive pyramids, or pyramidions, are found by 
others also related to sun worship. Each face is dedicated 
to a cardinal point, and contains extracts from the sacred 

Pyramid W 01^ ship. 309 

Scriptures. Marietta Bey shows that these points are 
indicated by symbolical animals. The north side is 
specially dedicated to the sun proper ; the east to Har- 
machus, the rising sun ; the west, to Toum, the setting 
sun. Rouge describes a pyramidion, on which a person 
is seen, he says, " in adoration, the face turned toward 
the south ; at his left are the formulas of invocation to 
the rising sun, and at the right are analogous formulas of 
invocation to the setting sun." There is existing a pyra- 
midion of King Antep, of the eleventh dynasty. 

Mr. Proctor, who writes so charmingly upon astronomy, 
attempts a theory upon the pyramids, whose erection he 
supposes was for astrological purposes ; saying, " While the 
mere basement layers of the pyramid would have served 
for the process of casting the royal nativity, with due 
mystical observances, the further progress of building the 
pyramid will supply the necessary means and indications 
for ruling the planets most potent in their influence upon 
the royal career." He has the extraordinary idea that 
Abraham, " having learned the art in Chaldea, when he 
journeyed into Egypt, taught the Egyptians the sciences 
of arithmetic and astrology." Evidently the gentleman is 
a better astronomer than an Egyptologist. 

Murtadi wrote in 1584 about the same subject. Refer- 
ring to the magician and priest Saiouph, declared to have 
lived with Noah, he proceeds to give some of that man's 
performances before the Deluge. " He made his abode,^' 
we are told, " in the maritime pyramid, which pyramid 
was a temple of the stars, where there was a figure of the 
sun, and one of the moon, both of which spoke. The fore- 
most or meridional pyramid was the sepulchre of the bodies 
of the kings, to which Saurid was translated. There were 
within it several other admirable things, and among others, 
the laughing statue, which was made of a great precious 

3 1 o Egyptian Belief and Modern TJiought. 

stone. They had disposed all these things within that 
place for fear of the inundation and spoil." Arab traditions 
are not quite reliable. 

After all, the Egyptian records explain the whole affair. 
The pyramid was a tomb of the king ; but, as he was 
.divine, and represented the sun deity on earth, it was really 
dedicated to the sun, as the object of worship. 

The chapter on king worship will explain the god-like 
character of the sovereign, and that he was clearly the son 
of the sun. Officiating priests prayed and sacrificed to him 
after death, and to the pyramid as the outward symbol of 
the deified man. Properly, the pyramid was the setting 
sun, the departure of the soul. And yet, it realised also 
the very opposite idea. King Sahura, the first of the fifth 
dynasty, a few years after the building of the Great Pyra- 
mid, raised one for himself, called Shaba ; meaning rising 
"Nw soul. Its very aspiring form from a broad base aptly 
typified the resurrection of the soul from the grave. 

Mr. W. R. Cooper points out Pasupti as *' an Egyptian 
deity represented as a hawk, wearing two upright feathers, 
and having a pyramid before him." He adds the solar 
idea: '* He was another form of Horus of the East." There 
were conical stones worshipped in Cyprus. A pyramid 
statue of Zeus Mettichios stood near Sityon. He was the 
appeased god. Maximus Tyrius writes that '' the Paphirus 
worship Aphrodite, whose statue is like a white pyramid." 
The Mexican altar for human sacrifices was a pyramid. 
The Laplander's magic drum bears the representation of 
a pyramid for the goddess Disca. 

Of Cheops, the builder of the Great Pyramid, an old 
inscription says : " He has built his pyramid there where 
the temple of that goddess (Isis) is, and he has built the 
pyramid of the princess Hentsen where that temple is." 
Cheops, as we see by his cartouche, claimed divinity, and 

Pyramid Worship. 3^^ 

was worshipped after death in his pyramid. As Dr. Birch 
properly says: '' So far from closing (temples), he built one 
shrine more close to the sphinx in honour of Isis." This 
man, like his predecessor Nefer-ka-ra of the second dynasty, 
did Is other kings of his own, the fourth dynasty, and as a 
few others of his immediate successors did,— he erected a 
pyramid for his tomb, but had a chapel before it for the 
worship of his pyramid and himself 

Hence we read often of "priest of the pyramid of" so 
and so ; the " prophet of the pyramid," etc. These prayed 
to the pyramid, as the symbol, not less than to the deceased 
king. Ouna's tomb is described by Mariette Bey. This 
prophet of the pyramid of King Papi, of the sixth dynasty, 
is made to report, among other things, " His Majesty sent 
to Abhat country to bring an image of God as well as a 
naos with its great door and its pyramidion for the pyra- 
mid Meri-en-ra Scha-nefer." There is also the tomb oi 
one who calls himself " Priest of the goddess Hathor and of 
the pyramid of the king." 

Oppert calls attention to the temple of Borsippa, of 
Assyria, seventy-five feet high, on which were seven other 
stages ; these represented the sun, moon, and five 


The Chevalier de B , who thinks "the Great Pyramid 

of Cheops will be known for what it really is, the alphabet 
which spells out the signification of the divine drama of 
existence," has this sentiment about the worship of the 
pyramid : — 

" I longed to pierce the mystery of the inspiration that 
suggested these divine structures ; to unveil the gigantic 
spirituality that embodied itself in the colossi around me ; 
to know the mystery of that central Spiritual Sun, whose 
protean forms of reproduction mirrored forth the lofty 
imaginings of the antique mind from all the grim, gro- 

3 1 2 Egyptian Belief and Mode7ni Thoughi. 

tesque, sublime and wonderfully varied forms of sculptures 
around me." 

Madame Blavatsky, the learned writer oi^'Isis Unveiled;' 
has the following mystical references to the pyramid : — 

"According to the Arabian descriptions, each of the 
seven chambers of the pyramids — those grandest of all 
cosmic symbols — was known by the name of a planet. 
The peculiar architecture of the pyramids shows in itself 
the drift of the metaphysical thought of their builders. 
The apex is lost in the clear blue sky of the land of the 
Pharaohs, and typifies the primordial point lost in the 
unseen universe from whence started the first race of the 
spiritual prototypes of man. Each mummy, from the mo- 
ment in which it was embalmed, lost its physical individu- 
ality in one sense ; it symbolised the human race. Placed 
in such a way as was best calculated to aid the exit of the 
soul, the latter had to pass through the seven planetary 
chambers before it made its exit through the symbolical 
apex. Each chamber typified, at the same time, one of 
the seven spheres, and one of the seven higher types of 
physico-spiritual humanity alleged to be above our own." 

The interest in this subject is enhanced when we remem- 
ber, as remarks the author of Divinites Egyptiennes, that, 
possibly, " more than seven thousand years have passed 
over the pyramids of Egypt." 


THE worship of SIrius, the dog-star, was a great 
institution in Egypt. 

The heliacal rising of Sirius, or first appearance with the 
sun, was hailed with enthusiastic delight; since it indicated, 
anciently, the season when the grateful inundation might 
be expected. This heavenly dog barked a warning for 
the people to shift to higher ground, and to have their 
canals and ditches ready for the overflow of the Nile. '' It 
is thus," says Mariette Bey, "the star which fixes and 
governs the periodic return of the year." Professor Owen 
says : " They noted the heliacal rising of the star Sirius, 
and learnt thereby to add five days to their last month." 

As Sothis, the star was an object of worship. But it was 
not merely for its direct service in relation to the annual 
inundation. It was, says Rouge, " Isis in the heaven." The 
deity Isis-Sothis was often invoked. The spirit of Isis was 
said to be in Sirius. In fact, Sirius was often represented 
as the cow of Isis in the sacred boat, having the cross of 
life suspended to its neck, with a star over its head. Isis 
herself declares upon her monuments, " I am in the constel- 
lation of the dog." Sirius was one of the dogs of Isis ; the 
other was Procyon in the constellation of Canis Minor. 
The star in the Dog's head is still Isis. Diana the hunt- 
ress was but Isis. " It is," says Pierret, "the queen of the 
thirty-six constellations that successively presided at the 
thirty-six decades." 

But Sirius was, also, mysteriously associated with 
Osiris, an additional reason for it to receive divine honours. 
Rouee remarks : '' The soul of Osiris was believed to reside 

3 1 4 Egyptian Belief and Modern Tkoiight. 

ill a personage who walks with great steps in front of 
Sothis, sceptre in hand, and the whip upon the shoulder." 
He adds, moreover : " The stars which form his constella- 
tion comprehend several decans, and respond in a great 
part to those of Orion." 

Sirius, again, is Aiiubis, the dog-headed god. In bowing 
to the star, men were worshipping the guardian of souls 
in the underworld. It seems strange that on one of the 
oldest known Egyptian spheres the constellation of Canis 
Major is represented as Anubis, the dog-god. 

There is a mysterious connection between the star and 
the final judgment. A picture shows the Judge seated 
upon his throne on high, and rays proceeding thence 
downward. As, however, such rays evidently proceed 
from the very apex of heaven, the star cannot be meant 
for Sirius, but for the Star of the Dragon, then the North 
Polar Star. The exaltation of that object, overlooking 
the world at all times, night and day, might naturally 
suggest to the Egyptian mind the eye of Providence ; and, 
as that knew all, it was a fitting type of an all-knowing 
Judge, able to read human hearts, and give a righteous 

Sirius, according to ChampoUion and others, is Thoth or 
Hermes, god of wisdom. It is assuredly singular that the 
Egyptians should have selected a dog as the type of a man 
of letters, or as an example to sacred scribes. La Nauze 
asks : " What is this name of Thot } Is it not the name 
of Mercury, of Anubis, of the Barker, of the dog so cele- 
brated in the antiquities of Egypt 1 Is it not the denomi- 
nation of the Canicula } " One of the ancient forms of 
Thoth gives him, not an ibis head, but a dog's head. 
Shakespeare and others have noted the dog barking at the 
moon. So, on the old monuments, we see Anubis, the dog, 
with open mouth, as if barking, before Isis, the moon. 

Siri2is Worship. 315 

On the Zodiac of Dendera a dog is seen with the sword 
of justice in its paw, and a little dog with the flail of judg- 
ment, as if taking the part of Osiris, the judge. Procyon 
is Pro-cyon, the ante-canis, the Thoth the second. Mithra, 
the Persian god, is Sirius ; since, though lion-headed, he 
has the body of a dog. Esculapius is clearly Sirius, often 
being portrayed with a dog's head. Sirius is a male deity 
in India. 

The star of Isis in the Dog is the dog of Erigone, the 
Virgin. The myth of Attica is closely associated with 
Sirius. It is well known that the inundation of the Nile, 
to be a success, must be attended with a prolonged north 
wind to drive back the river water upon the land, stay- 
ing its passage to the sea at the north of Egypt. Icarus 
happened to offend Jupiter, as it is said, and was killed. 
His virgin daughter Erigone committed suicide upon hear- 
ing the news, and the faithful dog Mera was in a sad state 
of mind. So Jupiter, for restitution, raised the father to 
be a star, Arcturus, the maiden to be Virgo, and the good 
dog to be Sirius, for ever facing his dear friends. 

But it seems that this high-handed proceeding of 
Jupiter was not pleasing to the divine community of Mount 
Olympus. As the gods could not show their displeasure 
toward the Father of Heaven, they very meanly vented 
their spite upon man. It just then happened that they 
were required to blow back the Nile water, according to 
annual custom. But they all struck, and the wind came 
not. The distressed Egyptians did what they could to 
turn aside the anger of these sulky divinities. They 
offered sacrifices, most savoury to the nostrils of baked- 
meat-odour loving gods, and fasted forty days. Mollified 
by these efforts, the celestials began to blow, and the 
Avaters began to rise, to the immense relief of the poor 

3 1 6 Egyptian Belief and Modern Tlwiight. 

This institution of forty days' fast, continued ever since 
in various pagan lands, is maintained still by the Mahomet- 
ans and the Christians. The latter call the season Lent, 
and hail it at the right time, and in like manner, as men 
have done for, perhaps, several thousands of years. 

The author of the work Sirius concludes Horus, also, to 
be Sirius. He calls him so, as Horus is "a dog by the date 
of his birth, July 24th." His description of Horus, and his 
dog associations, is as follows : — 

" Son of god, who is Osiris, conceived miraculously in the 
bosom of the virgin, who is yet in the bosom of her mother ; 
medicine-god, that is to say, god-saviour ; combating and 
overcoming Typhon, the spirit of evil ; king of earth ; 
great redeemer, since his hands are always armed with a 
whip or flail, — with the baton, having the head of a barking 
dog, — armed with the sacred hatchet, symbol of all power, 
and at the centre of his celestial kingdom regulates and 
overlooks the march of the stars, his subjects, curbing them 
with his dreaded er-r-r-r ; put to death, and risen again ; 
judge of souls whom he weighs with Anubis, in a balance 
whose support is surmounted by a sacred ape, with a dogs 

Hathor, the Egyptian Venus, is Sirius ; being called the 
goddess Sottas. Sirius is represented as the cynocephalus, 
with the feet on the tablet of a scribe, as the recorder of 
judgment on souls. His conection with the pyramid wor- 
ship is elsewhere related. A temple to Sothis or Sirius 
existed inside the great temple of Denderah. The proces- 
sion in his honour was one of the most celebrated in Egypt. 
A representation of it is seen on a monument of the 
eleventh dynasty, nearly five thousand years old. Dr. 
Birch says, " The festival of the heliacal rise of Sothis 
appears first in the tomb of Naht-sa-chnumhetp, at Beni- 
hassan." This tomb is of the eleventh dynasty. He dates 

Siriits Worship. 3 1 7 

the festival, as yet known to us, from the twelfth : " appar- 
ently," he adds, "to mark the fixed year and the Sothic 
cycle." An eleventh dynasty monument has this passage : 
" He lets thee shine, like Isis, Sothis, the morning of the 
new year." 

There is an Arab tradition about Mahomet's grand- 
father, who belonged to the tribe Kais, worshipping the 
star Sirius, and also seeking to bring the idol-bowing 
Koreish tribe from the adoration of images to simple 
reverence for Sirius. This suggests the survival of an old 
faith. It may have been derived from the Sothis of the 
Egyptians, or from some common ancestor of Egyptians 
and Cushite Arabs. 

M. Dufeu, the distinguished Egyptologist, is struck with 
the position which this dog-star occupies. " The celebrated 
dog, Sothis," says he, " had played the most important 
part in Egyptian antiquity ; he presided at the creation of 
worlds ; he began the great year of god (Sothic period); he 
announced the growth of the Nile by his heliacal rising, 
and the spring by his heliacal setting ; he was the guardian 
of heaven, the king of stars, and by his position he 
prevented the sun going to bury itself in the abyss of the 
southern region." 

Still, the most remarkable story about Sirius is that 
given by the writer of Siriics, published in Paris, 1852. 

The theory of this French scholar is, that all religions 
are derived from Sirius, as the dog-star. The various 
words, in many lands, of ancient and modern times, bearing 
relation to God, or celestial beings, he traces to dog-bark- 
ing, or to thundering, which is a sort of dog-growl. 

While propounding this advanced opinion, which might 
be considered as Philological Materialism, he guards him- 
self against being supposed anything but a good Catholic. 
He calls his work — one of one hundred and fifty-four 

3 1 8 Egyptian Belief and Modern ThongJit. 

closely printed pages — an Introditction. His apology is a 
remarkable one ; worthy of the Napoleonic days of thought- 
repression, or curious as illustrating the two-fold nature of 
the author's mind. 

He says he has been '' forced to confine himself, in many 
points, to a simple enumeration of certain opinions which, 
presented thus, without the developments destined to com- 
plete them, might appear, relatively to the facts of several 
traditions, as not sufficiently explicit in a Christian point 
of view." He protests against prematured interpretation, 
making his words appear to mean what he had not in- 
tended ; at the same time, he abstains from giving a mean- 
ing to his strange exposition. He, finally, professes him- 
self "profoundly submissive to all the beliefs, to all the 
teachings of the holy Catholic Church." 

This style of apology may have been necessary in 
France, especially after the Coup dEtat. 

Though the matter is so very curious, space will not 
warrant a lengthened reference. The gist of it is contained 
in this sentence : " The most important words and the 
principal roots of the universal language were a production 
of the sounds of thunder, and the accents of the dog 
representations of the thundering Being." 

He selects dom, doicn, hr, cr, for God, " because," says he, 
"they are the onomatopes of the sounds of thunder, tonne- 
errrer In the same way ker, sir, ab, abo, abbe d.x^ onoma- 
topes (correspondence of sound with the sound of the thing) 
of the barking of a dog. So with rom, ron, drrr, sir, Sirius. 
As / is often substituted for r, he gets sol-eil, once syr-oeil, 
the eye of Syr or Sirius. Howling noises suggest the same 
thought. He derives Allah from the Hebrew all, to howl. 
As ir and is are the same, he has kis for kir, getting the 
moon Isis for esis or kisis, which he discovers to be moon in 
some American dialects. Then kisis is kiris, which with the 

Sirius Worship. 319 

prefix 0, and s for k, gives him Osiris, the sun. Isis, again, 
is kies-is or kiri-is, the goddess female dog, or feminine 
Anubis. But Kisis is the name of the dog-king of Cyno- 
polis, whose early name was kis. According to Plutarch, 
also, Kyes-is is synonymous with Sothis, since he is the 
kyon, or canis, the dog, who is the Father, as I sis is the 

Ma-gog is simply mother gog or dog. Thus is the 
mystery of Gog and Ma-gog settled at once as Dog mas- 
culine, and Dog feminine, in the divine sense. In Chinese, 
kien or iien is both dog and God. TcJiin and ina-tcJmi 
are, also, dog and mother dog. The goddess mother of 
Mexico has a three-headed dog protecting her productive 
power. Ceres is the feminine for Cerberus. In fact. 
Bog, the god of the Sclavonians, is but the reversal of dog. 

Sirius is thus to made to appear as the primitive idea of 
all ancient and modern mythologies. 


AS Egyptian magicians were not sorcerers, so astrologers 
were not, necessarily, magicians. Sorcery had to do 
with bad spirits ; magic, v/ith gods or elementary spirits ; 
but astrology, with none of them, of necessity. 

Keen observers of nature, with defective means to 
philosophize upon facts, the learned Egyptians noticed 
the influence of the heavenly bodies upon terrestrial things, 
and upon the happiness of man. Until of late, we laughed 
at them for their folly. Now, our scientific professors tell 
us that the spots on the sun produced the Indian famine. 
They may hereafter discover some subtle influences pro- 
ceeding from planets and other stars, especially at their 
conjunctions, though unable to divine the causes. 

But the ancients hastily concluded that the observed 
effects came from intelligent causes existing in the stars. 
Hence, in an early hymn of praise it is said : '' The stars 
in their courses fought against Sisera;" and this was no 
figure of speech, Usher says, ** which the common opinion 
ascribed to the special influence of the planets;" these 
having brought rain, swollen the river, and destroyed the 
host. Parkhurst refers to their " influence on the atmo- 
sphere." Boerhaave adds, " the different aspects of the 
planets may contribute to this effect." Kitto writes : 
" When the connection of the stars with the rainy season, 
as at least indicating it at the times of their rising and 
setting, is alluded to." 

Arago the astronomer writes : " Hippocrates has so 
lively a faith in the influence of the stars on animated 

Star Worship. 321 

beings, and on their maladies, that he very expressly re- 
commends not to trust to physicians who are ignorant of 
astronomy." Science now regards this stellar influence on 
health, especially on the development of animalculae, as not 
so very improbable. If an effect on health, why not on 
fortune } If on an individual, why not on empires } Thus 
it was the ancients became astrologers. Bacon says, "There 
is superstition in shunning superstition." A modern philo- 
sopher declares : " Sir Isaac Newton was half inoculated 
with the absurdities of judicial astrology." Bishop Jeremy 
Taylor notes these studies of the ancients : '' That they 
might leave their influence upon us, and make predictions 
of contingencies." Archbishop Usher, Bishop Hall, Dry- 
den, Flamstead, Ashmole, John Milton, and Steele were 
believers. Schiller sings : — 

" They live no longer in the faith of reason ! 
But still the heart doth need a language, still 
Doth the old instinct sing back the old names." 

Bulwer Lytton could not think of the old astrologers 
" without a solemn and stirring awe, an admiration of the 
vast conception even of so unwise a dream." One declares 
that "astrology is to direct astronomy. what psychology is 
to exact physiology ; in astrology and psychology one has 
to step beyond the visible world of nature." Maurice's 
" Hindostan " notes " the inseparable connection between 
the astronomical and theological system of the ancients." 

The Egyptians were an essentially religious people. 
When once persuaded of the influence of the stars, they 
immediately connected that with divinity. It had pleased 
Heaven to bestow those powers upon the skies, and they 
set themselves reverently to map out the constellations, 
as well as make accurate observations of their risings and 
settings, with the conjunctions of planets, because of their 
specific effect on man. As the heavenly bodies were under 


322 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought, 

rigorous law in their movements, the intelligences in them 
could be no fickle beings, and any system founded upon 
such influence might be relied on. By consulting the stars, 
determining their relative position and consequent action, 
events were calculated upon with tolerable correctness. 
Ascertaining the time of a person's birth, by genethlialogy, 
the exact picture of the skies at that epoch could be ob- 
tained, and the fate of the individual determined by the 
then aspect of the stars. 

It is, however, rather unfortunate for the calculations of 
nativities that, as the excellent authoress of " Mazzaroth " 
says : " people are said to be born under one sign, while in 
reality they are born under another, because the sun is now 
seen among different stars at the equinox." But it is only 
another version of Facts versus Fancies. 

Manetho wrote in Egypt upon astrology, though Ptolemy 
is the great authority. His '' Tetrabiblos " consisted of 
four books relative to starry influences, and must have 
included some of the more ancient Egyptian theories. He 
says Astro-Medical science was invented by Hermes Tris- 
megistus. His translator tells the reader that " while the 
ancient Egyptian medicos paid excessive attention to 
meteorological and other external influences, more or less 
produced by the heavenly bodies, we have too much 
neglected the influence of such upon our medical treat- 
ment. The same man is not at all times and seasons 
susceptible to the same attack or to the same treatment." 

The Egyptians " in every case," says Ptolemy the astro- 
loger, "joined astronomy to medicine. Had they con- 
sidered the effects of the Ambient (external influences) 
incapable of being altered or mitigated, they would not 
have instituted atonements, remedies, and preventatives 
against these evils, whether present or to come, general 
or particular ; but they considered the effects of the cause. 

Star Worship. 323 

and the effect of the opposing cause, according to their 
natures, and thus joined the art of prognostication." 

But it was the association of all this with religion, and 
the special interposition of the Providence of Divinities, 
that led Jerome to call all astrological charts " The oppro- 
brium of Egypt." It was believed that every month was 
under the care of three spiritual directors, each influencing 
man for ten days. Prayers, fastings, and offerings were 
connected with the early practice of astrology. Though 
the gods originated these peculiar stellar attributes, they 
were to be moved to the mitigation of distress, and the 
increase of good as a counteractant of evil. 

Mr. Geo. Smith found Assyrian tablets on astrology, in 
which " everything in nature is supposed to portend some 
coming event." He adds, "There is a fragment of one 
astrological tablet which professes to be copied from an 
original of the time of Izdubar " (supposed era of the 
Assyrian Deluge). He mentions one work of seventy 
tablets, which he declares '' one of the most ancient texts 
in the Euphrates Valley." 

A modern writer found the Gipsies practising the art, 
and by " calculations and methods purely Chaldaic." One 
woman excited profound interest by her skill and know- 
ledge of the stars. She gave the latter, he says, " not the 
ordinary astronomical names, but their cabalistic titles and 
history, and reciting some of the myths in this connection 
that I have never seen anywhere detailed, except in the 
ancient Zohar, or Book of Light." Byron cried, — 

" Ye stars ! which are the poetry of heaveu ' 
If in your bright leaves we would read the fate 
Of men and empires, 'tis to be forgiven, 
That, in our aspiration to be great, 
Our destinies o'erleap their mortal state, 
And claim a kindred with you," 

324 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

Of course, we laugh at gencthlialogy now. Scientists, 
perhaps, oppose astrology as they do spiritualism and 
religious thought, as not being capable of being tested by 
their system of investigation. But Dupuis is wrong in 
calling it ''only a degraded astronomy." The Book of 
Enoch, and the dying charge of Jacob to his sons, have 
references to it. Moreri somehow discovered that Adam 
was a great astrologer, and so foretold the Deluge ! 

Tertullian, like other Christian fathers, held slightly the 
old Egyptian idea of astrology being connected with re- 
ligion. Thus he writes : " Those angels who forsook God, 
who were lovers of women, were also the discoverers of this 
curious art, and on that account were condemned by God. 
The astrologers were cast out, as were their angels. But 
wise men and astrologers came from the East ; the interpre- 
ters of the stars, therefore, were the first to announce the 
birth of Christ." The early Christians could not, conse- 
quently, afford to despise astrology, the first handmaid of 
their faith. 

On some of the earliest pictures known in the world are 
representations of men and women adoring stars. Murtadi 
the Arab tells us that Bardesor was the first in Egypt who 
" applied himself to the worship of the stars." We may 
be sceptical about his authorities. But we do know that 
Canopus, as well as the Polar star, was the star god of 

Ouranisvi, or the worship of heaven, is of undeniable 
antiquity. If man, so dependent on the sun, should have 
felt a reverence for it, or for the being supposed to guide 
it, he would certainly attach a proportionate interest to 
the stars, or the spirits that dwelt therein. In so clear a 
sky as the Egyptian, these bright orbs could not fail to 
excite the imagination of an imaginative people. 

The Signs of the Zodiac, above all other constellations. 

Star Worship. 3^5 

demand attention as indicating the path of the sun, the 
great outward object of worship. But so tempting a sub- 
ject of enquiry must not here be entered upon. It is suf- 
ficient to state that these clusters are traced upon the roofs 
and walls of temples, and were deemed worthy of re- 
spectful adoration. Ouranism must have had a hold upon 
human thought, when, according to Josephus, the zodiac 
was portrayed on the veil of the temple at Jerusalem, and 
when, to this day, we find it on the roofs of modern Chris- 
tian churches. The eastern porch of the grand cathedral 
of Chartres contains the sculptured signs. Four Egyptian 
goddesses, at the north, south, east and west, supported the 
heavens of the zodiac. 

Other constellations won the spiritual regard of the 
Egyptians. The soul or sahou of Osiris was said to have, 
dwelt in Orion. The Belt of three stars, the middle one 
being of especial interest, could not fail to -win attention. 
But everything in the stellar field pales before the brilliancy 
of Sirius, the dog-star. It was but natural that the Egyp- 
tians should honour this king of stars. But this worship 
has been elsewhere noticed. " If the star of the great dog," 
said one, '' be obscure, the heart of the country will not be 

Animal worship was carried upwards to the celestial 
dogs, lions, eagles, horses, serpents, fish, etc., as tree wor- 
ship in heavenly forms of vegetation ; or, the process was 

Dupuis says that " the worship rendered to the Lepidote 
(a fish), was equally carried to the star of the Nile, and to 
the warning genius of the waters. Herodotus speaking of 
this fish, so respected by the Egyptians, tells us that it was 
consecrated to the Nile. As to the other fish, Anguilla, it 
was truly the symbol of the constellation of the Hydra, 
whose heliacal rising announced thus the beginning of 

26 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

the overflow. The name is given now to the celestial 
serpent ; and the constellation of the Hydra was so directly 
en rappo7't with the Nile, that it bore even the name of it 
with the Egyptians, according to Theon." 

Plutarch, somehow, combines the three sacred fish in one 
celestial fish ; " attributing to them the same function with 
the god who had devoured the secrets of Osiris. In fact, it 
was said that those parts of Osiris were thrown into the 
Nile, and that one of these fish swallowed them." ^lian 
reports that the fish Oxyrinchus, translated to heaven, 
was born from the blood of Osiris. Four animals in the 
skies of Egypt marked the cardinal points : but four of 
Oannes, the fish god, in Chaldea ; as the four sons of Saturn 
elsewhere. Clement compares them to the four gospels. 

The planets exercised a great influence. Of the Egyp- 
tians, Ptolemy reports that they " are influenced by all the 
five planets in their occidental condition, and are worship- 
pers of the gods, whom they fear." Horus the Bull may 
represent Saturn, being a bull-headed god, with a sceptre. 
Mars was Horus the Tepscheta. Venus was Neter-tiaou, 
with a hawk's head and disk. Isis Sopt and Hor-tesch 
are two others. Some put Set or Soubek for Mercury. 
Venus is ocasionally called the Phoenix, or travelling star 
of Osiris. Among the planets were these names : Hor-ap- 
shet, Jupiter ; Hor-ka-her, Saturn ; Hor-khou-ti, Mars ; 
Sebek, Mercury ; and Bennou-osiri, Venus. 

The planetary signs are quite Egyptian, and connected 
with their worship of the sun and moon, and of the cross. 
Thus, Mercury has the moon, sun and cross ; Venus, a 
cross below a circle or the sun ; Mars, an oblique cross on 
the sun ; Jupiter, a cross on the lower part of a crescent ; 
and Saturn, the cross on a crescent. Maurice, in his 
" Hindostan," remarks that, *' as by a circle the ancient 
Egyptians universally portrayed the solar disk, so by this 

Star Worship. 327 

addition of the circle invariably joined to the cross, they 
meant to describe the invigorating power of the sun acting 
upon dead matter." He attempts to explain " in their 
characteristic designations of the several planets, the cross 
constantly fixed, though in different directions." 

Porphyry assures his readers that " the majority of 
philosophers imagine there never to have been any other 
world than the one we see, and acknowledge no other gods 
of all those recognized by the Egyptians, than such as are 
commonly called planets, signs of the zodiac, and constel- 
lations ; whose aspects, that is, the rising and setting, are 
supposed to influence the fortunes of men." Costard inti- 
mates that history, no less than mythology, " is to be read 
in the heavens ; " and Richer, that " in the constellations 
all primitive revelation may be traced." 

Eusebius reports : " The Egyptians esteem the sun to be 
the Demiurgus, and hold the legends about Osiris and 
Isis, and all their other mythological fables, to have refer- 
ence to the stars, their appearances and occultations, and 
the periods of their rising." Some fun is made of the sub- 
ject by Aristophanes, especially as some divine festivals, 
founded on the movements of the moon, were shifting ones, 
like some of our modern church feasts ; singing 

" The Moon by us to you her greeting sends, 
But bids us say that she's an ill-used moon, 
And takes it much amiss that you should still 
Shuffle her days, and turn them topsy turvy ; 
And that the gods (who know their feast days well) 
By your false count are sent home supperless, 
And scold and storm at her for your neglect." 

The twelve signs of the zodiac are of Egyptian origin 
Jamieson reports of their symbols that ** they were invented 
at a very early period of time" ; but the learned authoress 
of "Mazzaroth," rightly points out that there are "no 

328 hgyptian Belief and Modern TJioicgJit, 

Egyptian explanations of them." A letter to Anebo, an 
Egyptian priest, distinctly affirms that the only gods in the 
universe are " those stars that fill up the zodiac." 

What did the wise men of Egypt mean by these constel- 
lations } Nearly thirty years ago a friend showed the writer 
a letter he had received from Prof. Airy, Astronomer 
Royal, in answer to a question, and in which these words 
occur : " I do not believe that any astronomer of this age 
considers that there is any occult meaning in the formation 
of the constellations, or that Ptolemy's placing the stars 
had any reference to mythology." 

Mr. Henry Melville, the interrogator, three years ago 
published his " Veritas," as a revelation of mysteries, found- 
ing his system upon the forms assumed by those constel- 
lations, and reading the mythologies of various nations, 
according to his " Laws of the Medes and Persians." The 
book, edited by the brother of the Poet Laureate, and pub- 
lished by Hall of Paternoster Row, may interest the 
curious, if not convince the philosopher. He sees, on be- 
half of the Egyptian priests, neither morals nor religion in 
the story of the skies. 

Miss Rolleston, the writer of " Mazzaroth," on the con- 
trary, reads the Egyptian signs of the zodiac as Prof. Smyth 
did the lines of the pyramid, as prophetical warnings of the 
coming of Christ, etc. She sees " the emblems of the twelve 
signs of the zodiac, marking out the way of Him who 
should come, depart, and come again, as the sun. His re- 
cognized type in the heavens." The early Egyptian tracers 
of these celestial figures as little thought a lady of the 
nineteenth century would find them Messianic, as others 
thought that a professor of that date should discover 
similar readings in the pyramid. She, of course, assumed 
that " the primeval religion of Egypt was that revealed to 
Adam, and transmitted by Noah." 

Star Worship, 329 

But she did good service in exposing the futiUty of other 
schemes ; such as, that the signs of the zodiac referred to 
agricultural operations in Egypt. " If the Nile," says she, 
** overflowed under Aquarius, the harvest of Egypt could not 
take place under Virgo, nor either equinox under Gemini, 
as has been sometimes supposed." Dupuis had called Virgo 
the harvest month. Macrobius, fourth century, explained 
the zodiac by seasons of his own times as sensibly. But 
Jamblichus declared that *' the Egyptians do not say that 
all things are physical." 

Lucian writes : " The famous Lybian oracle of Ammon, 
whom they portray with a ram's head, refers to the celestial 
sign of that name (Aries), and to the method of enquiring 
into futurity by the aid of astrology." 

Virgo has the face of Isis, and is Isis. Outside of Notre 
Dame, Paris, the zodiac is sculptured. But Virgo is re- 
jected, and the Virgin Mary is put above all the rest. 
Abbe Dupuis relates that " The portal of the great church 
of St. Denys, that of Strasbourg, and several others, pre- 
sent the zodiacs, differently modified ; this is the most 
curious." No wonder the Athenian Chaeremon believed 
the Egyptians interpreted the story of Isis and other fables 
as "nothing but stars and planets and the river Nile." 
Landseer, in the " Sabaean Mysteries," traces the connec- 
tion between the stars of Osiris, or constellation of Bootes, 
and agricultural operations. " The earliest star of Virgo 
(Isis) is rising," says he, " simultaneously with the Ras — 
the principal star of Bootes, when Arcturus is kept out," 
Eusebius had before given it as his opinion that Osiris was 

Among the twelve Egyptian divinities of months were, 
Tech, a female, with cross and sceptre ; the god Meach ; 
the goddess Hathor ; the goddess Kahak ; the god Sche- 
flut ; and the goddess Ranen. There is a story related by 

330 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought, 

some ancient writer, that the Egyptian gods once bore the 
figures of the constellations. 

Jamieson says : " The sun in Leo was adored as the god 
Osiris ; in Virgo, it was worshipped as his sister Isis ; at 
its passage with the sign Scorpio, the terrible reign of 
Typhon commenced." He thought the sun in Aries was 
Ammon. Capricornus may have been the goat Mendez, 
as Sol generator. Virgo was Isis with a palm branch or 
an ear of corn in her hand. The sicrn for Taurus, beino- a 
crescent on a circle, meant Isis and Osiris, the moon and 
sun deities. Taurus was the Apis bull, an emblem of 
Osiris. Aries was Ammon the ram-headed. Cancer is 
said to have been once Hermanubis, a compound of Hermes 
and Anubis. A Nile measure in the hand of the Omphta 
refers to Libra. Mr. R. Stewart Poole says : " In the 
astronomical sculptures of the Ramesseum of El-Kurmeh, 
we find a symbol of the autumnal equinox represented as 
one of the divinities of the first month, and in like manner 
a symbol of the vernal equinox as the god of the seventh 

The Chaldean zodiac was under the twelve great gods ; 
Cannes, Salman-Nisroch, Sin, Merodach, Ao, Ninip-Sam- 
dan, Nebo, Mylitta, Nergal, Bel-Dagon, Samas, Istar. 
The Chaldean Pole-star god was Cagagilgate. He was the 
Judge of Heaven, able from his celestial position to look 
down upon gods and men. Dilgan, a form of Marduk, the 
Assyrian Saviour, was a planet. The Rev. A. H. Sayce 
considers *' that star worship had already been introduced 
among the Accadians at the time of the invention of 
writing, and that the most natural symbol of a deity was 
thought to be a star." He believes that in Babylon " the 
full development of astro-theology cannot have been much 
earlier than B.C. 2000." 

The Indian zodiac has a mythological meaning : it con- 

Sta7^ Worship. 


sists of the Ram, Bull, the Pair, Crab, Lion, Virgin, 
Balance, Scorpion, Bow, Sea-monster, Ewer, and Fish. 
The Chinese, is of the Mouse, Ox, Tiger, Horse, Dragon, 
Serpent, Hare, Sheep, Monkey, Cock, Dog, and Boar ; all 
having reference to deities. The lunar mansions, as they 
are called in astrology, are twenty-eight in number, both in 
Chaldea and Egypt ; Osiris is reported to have lived 
twenty-eight years in the world. The Avesta of the Per- 
sians makes Ahriman, the Evil Principle, come as a star- 
serpent between the sky and the earth. 

While Lenormant observes that " a barbarous subtlety 
belongs to all the religions of the ancient world," many are 
ready to laugh at the absurdity of an astrological religion. 
When an Egyptian zodiac was found in 1705, and its 
meaning was sought from the French Academy, Fontenelle 
spoke in their midst and said : " It belongs to the history 
of the folly of mankind, and the Academy has something 
better to do than to waste Its time In researches of this 
kind." Sir William Drummond thought there was some- 
thing In Tsabaism, or planet worship, since, as he says, It 
Avas " the religion of almost every country that was Inhabi- 
ted." The authoress of ''Mazzaroth" regards the fables as 
derived from the constellations, and not the constellations 
from the fables. Landseer and Payne Knight fancy star 
worship was before the worship of the symbols. 

Plutarch reports some Greek atheists saying that the 
Egyptians referred all their religious stories into nothing 
but stars and planets. Eusebius gladly caught at this re- 
mark, and cried out : " See now what Is become of this 
arcane theology of the Egyptians, that deifies nothing but 
senseless matter, or dead Inanimate bodies." But the 
authority of a Greek atheist was, at least, a very unsafe 

The connection of the stars with divination and influence 

3 2 Egyptian Belief and Modern ThougJif. 

on human beings Is enlarged on in the chapter of Magical 
Religion. A worship was rendered to stars in Egypt ; but 
it was, doubtless, only that permitted by the Christian 
Church to certain images, pictures, and symbols. Fosbroke 
thus refers to a small sect in Ceylon : " Townley says the 
worship consists of adoration to the heavenly bodies, in- 
voking them in consequence of the supposed influence they 
have on the affairs of man. The priests are great astro- 
nomers, and believed to be thoroughly skilled in the power 
and influence of the planets." The thoughtful words of 
the wise and good Rev. F. W. Robertson, of Brighton, are 
worth quoting : — 

"Astronomy is a science which arises from man's need 
of religion ; other sciences spring out of wants bounded by 
this life. No wonder if in those devout days of young 
thought, science was only another name for religion, and 
the priest of the great temple of the universe was also the 
priest in the temple made with hands. Astronomy was the 
religion of the zvorlcVs youths 


FEW things have more excited the wonder of Egypto- 
logists than the discovery of papyri containing 
magical texts and formulae. These were employed to 
ward off evil and bring good. They were of service to the 
dead as well as to the living, since the dead were alive in 
another world, to be influenced in their course there by 
the prayers and rites of the faithful still dwelling by the 

The spiritualism, if such it may be called, of the ancients 
has been little understood and much derided. Whatever 
folly and deceit were connected with it, there was sense or 
fascination enough about it to hold the greatest and wisest 
in its folds. Plato said that magic consisted in the worship 
of the gods; and Psellus, that ''magic formed the last 
part of the sacerdotal science." Proclus the Platonist has 
the following reasoning upon magic : — 

" As lovers gradually advance from that beauty which is 
apparent in sensible forms, to that which is divine, so the 
ancient priests, when they considered that there is a certain 
alliance and sympathy in natural things to each other, and 
of things manifest to occult powers, and discovered that 
all things subsist in all, they fabricated a sacred science 
from this mutual sympathy and similarity. Now, the 
ancients, having contemplated this mutual sympathy of 
things, applied for occult purposes, both celestial and 
terrene natures, by means of which, through a certain 
similitude, they deduced divine virtues into this inferior 

334 Egyptian Belief and Modern TJioiight. 

We notice this sympathy in objects, and call it chemical 
affinity, natural attraction, etc. Swedenborg talked of 
correspondencies between heaven and earth. Some philo- 
sophers, even in this age of blank materialism, are begin- 
ning to recognize subtle influences in nature not to be 
explained, but which in olden times formed the ground- 
work of magic. In fact, as Dr. Carter Blake pithily has 
it, " The nineteenth century is not that which has observed 
the genesis of new, nor the completion of old, methods of 
thought." If the ancients knew but little of our mode of 
investigation into the secrets of nature, we know less of 
their mode of research. 

The ancients recognized the action of divinity on man 
through sensible objects. But they believed in the power ot 
man, under what is called magic, to command the services 
of the gods. Magic is, then, religion. " Magic was con- 
sidered," Deveria remarks, '' as a sacred science or sacred 
art, inseparable from religion." It is important then, says 
F. Lenormant, " to determine the influence which religious 
belief of different peoples and of different ages have had 
upon it, and the influence which in its turn it has exercised 
on these same beliefs." 

The power of magic with the Egyptians is thus spoken 
of by Jamblichus : " They, through the sacerdotal theurgy, 
announce that they are able to ascend to more elevated 
and universal essences, and to those that are established 
above fate, viz., to God and the Demiurgus : neither 
employing matter, nor assuming any other things besides, 
except the observation of a sensible time." Thus, quoting 
Dr. Blake : " nearly all the higher facts of spiritualism are 
mere repetitions of the conceptions of intellectual men in 
past generations." Egyptian mystics could levitate, walk 
the air, handle fire, live under water, sustain great pressure, 
harmlessly suffer mutilation, read the past, foretell the 

Religion of Magic. 335 

future, make themselves invisible, and cure diseases. Their 
great priestly teachers were known as Rekh-get-amen. 

Admission to the mysteries did not confer magical 
powers. These depended upon two things : the possession 
of innate capacities, and the knowledge of certain formulae 
employed upon suitable circumstances. 

Divination, therefore, was practised by those who had 
special gifts or faculties born with them, and carefully 
developed by prayer and fasting, which kept down the 
grosser impulses of the soul. Justin Martyr supposed 
Joseph a great proficient. To divine, however, the person 
must have an object by which to work, and must repeat 
approved magical texts. Joseph's divining cup was quite 
an Egyptian institution. Ezekiel notices the divining 
arrows without points. Books of divination were common, 
like calendars of good and bad days. They divined then 
from the elements, trees, birds, etc. 

Dreams were held important in certain cases. The 
dreams of Pharoahs were interpreted according to fixed 
rule by special magicians. A long story is hieroglyphically 
detailed on a granite monument at Napata, of the dream 
of King Amen-meri Nout. He thought he saw two 
serpents, one on each side of him. The explanation 
afforded was this : " The land of the South shall be thine, 
thou shalt take the land of the North." This, we are told 
came true. He was first King of Ethiopia, and then 
captured Memphis. The stone is called " The Stele of the 
Dream." The gods sent the dream to the king, and gave 
the wise men the interpretation. 

Oracles were communications from the gods to 
favoured persons ; that is, to mediums. They were 
delivered from the holy place of the temple, and by special 
priestesses. They evidenced prophetic power, clairvoyance, 
discerning of spirits, second sight, or whatever else that 

33^ Egyptian, Belief and Modern Thonght. 

faculty may be called, undoubtedly possessed by some, 
and, perhaps, capable of development by exercise. But 
the ancients, like some moderns, not content with simple 
and natural explanation, ascribed the action to super- 
natural visitation, and so connected it with religion. 
Spirits were believed to convey the information. It might 
be Isis, or Apollo, or the sainted dead. 

The early Christians had no doubt of the reality of 
Egyptian oracles. Among the believing Fathers were 
Tatian, Clemens Alexandrinus, Chrysostom, Origen, Justin 
Martyr, Cyprian, TertuUian, Jerome, and Augustine. It 
was natural for the last named, as an African, to place 
credence in spiritualistic movements. He thus refers to 
the prophetic power of the spirits : — 

" They, for the most part, foretell what they are about 
to perform ; for often they receive power to send diseases 
by vitiating the atmosphere. Sometimes they predict 
what they foresee by natural signs, which signs transcend 
human sense ; at others they learn, by outward bodily 
tokens, human plans, even though unspoken, and thus 
foretell things to the astonishment of those ignorant of the 
existence of such plans." 

Spirits played a conspicuous part in Egyptian magic. 
They are called gods, of course. The Chaldean Magi 
believed in elementary spirits, something between the 
divine and human, floating in air or water, existing in fire, 
or dwelling in caves and rocks. The Egyptians, on the 
contrary, thought, says Lenormant, ** the possessing spirits, 
and the spectres who affright or torment the living, were 
damned souls come again to earth, before being submitted 
to the annihilation of the second death." They believed 
what Swedenborgians and a crowd of spiritualists now 
believe in England and America. 

They had no doubt about Possession, any more than the 

Religion of Magic. 337 

Jews had at the time of the Gospels. Josephus assures us 
that his countrymen were tormented by the spirits of the 
wicked dead possessing bodies. Maspero thus describes 
the Egyptian notion : " The damned sought a human body 
to lodgQ there ; and, when finding it, overwhehiied it with 
diseases, and sent it to murder and folly." Allan Kardec, 
the re^incarnationist, has another view of the case ; saying, 
" Since two spirits cannot inhabit simultaneously the same 
body, there is no such thing as possession." But from the 
days of the pyramids to our own time, possession has been 
acknowledged. All sects of Christians have declared this 

The advantage of magic in such circumstances is at once 
apparent. It was no joke to be plagued by such spirits, 
and most important to light upon some plan to eject them, 
or conciliate their goodwill. 

The profoundly learned author of "Art Magic " seems 
to have some suspicion of this community of lost spirits. 
His estimate of the Egyptian magicians may explain many 
spiritual phenomena : — 

" They were highly educated, scientific men. They 
understood the nature of the loadstone, the virtues of 
mineral and animal magnetism, which, together with the 
force of psychological impression, constituted a large 
proportion of their theurgic practices. They perfectly 
understood the art of reading the inmost secrets of the 
soul, of impressing the susceptible imagination by enchant- 
ment and fascination, of sending their own spirits forth 
from the body, as clairvoyants, under the action of power- 
ful will — in fact, they were masters of the arts now known 
as mesmerism, clairvoyance, electro-biology, etc. They 
also realised the virtues of magnets, gums, herbs, drugs, 
and fumigations, and employed music to admirable effect." 
But it simplified matters so much to conceive of gods 


33^ Egyptian Belief and Modern TJionght. 

and other spirits performing the required tricks that the 
dogma was generally received. These agencies were all 
ready to hand then, as Pixies are still in Devonshire, 
Banshees in Ireland, PItrls in India, and goblins every- 

Such being the case, "certain rites," says Lenormant, 
" and certain formulae gave a man the power to invoke the 
dead." According to Clement, the Egyptians got this 
agreeable power from Mizralm, who had It from his father 
Ham, who received It direct from heaven. Calmet, in his 
Bible Dictionary, says : " The Egyptians believed that the 
souls of the dead sometimes appeared to the living : that 
the necromancers evoked them, and thus obtained answers 
concerning the future, and Instruction relating to the time 
present." The Assyrians, as we now learn from Nineveh 
tablets. Indulged In the raising of the spirits of the dead. 
All supposed, with Longfellow, that — 

" The spiritual world 
Lies all about us, and its avenues 
Are open to the unseen feet of phantoms." 

But there Is no record of the Egyptians going beyond the 
mere conjuring up of the dead. They do not appear to 
have known what is now practised — the materialization of 
spirits, or ghosts clothed more or less with flesh as well as 

The survival of Egyptian spiritualism is affirmed by the 
Arab Murtadi, who, some centuries ago, thus discoursed of 
guardian spirits of the Gizeh Pyramids : — 

'' The spirit of the southern pyramid never appears out 
of It, but in the form of a naked woman, beautiful as to all 
other parts, and whereof the behaviour is such as when she 
would provoke any one to love, and make him distracted, 
she laughs at him, and presently he approaches her, and 
she draws him to her, and besots him with love, so that he 

Rdigion of Magic, 339 

immediately grows mad, and wanders like a vagabond up 
and down the country. The spirit of the Second Pyramid 
is an ancient Nubian, having a basket on his head, and in 
his hands a censer like those used in churches." 

The Curing of Diseases was an important work, and was 
accomplished, as it is now, by the revelations of mediums. 
The affected was put into a magnetic sleep by the priestly 
magician. Isis was supposed to reveal herself to him, and 
declare the nature of the complaint, and the means of 
relief. In London and New York the same system is being 
followed, though some other spirit than Isis may be an- 
nounced. The Hindoo magicians cure by means of the 
Agasa, or life fluid, or vital force, which can be poured 
forth upon the sufferer, though supposed to be sent by the 
Pitris, or ancestral spirits. But the special healers must, 
nevertheless, not fail in the use of proper formulae. 

These formulae, though mere words, had unmistakable 
power. Words, with the ancients, were as living as the 
Numbers of Pytliagorus. A knowledge of the right and 
secret name of a god secured to the scholar a means of 
controlling that god. The Egyptians, like the Jews, at- 
tached great influence to the secret name of the presiding 
divinity. If pronounced with suf^cient confidence, in a 
fitting place, under proper stellar and terrestrial conditions, 
tremendous miracles could be wrought. The celebrated 
Harris Papyrus illustrates the value of divine names. 

As the Egyptians were so eminently a religious people, 
with such reverence for their gods, it does strike one as 
singular to find them call upon these Celestials to help 
them, and even to manifest themselves. M. Maury says, 
" Not only is the god called by his name, but if he refuses 
to appear, he is menaced." This reminds one of the priests 
of Baal. Porphyry was shocked at this seeming impiety, 
especially when, says he, " these whom we invoke as the 

340 Egyptian Belief an el Moelern Thought. 

most powerful receive injunctions as the most weak ;" and 
when, too, " they refuse not to serve as guides to men with- 
out morality," and often for the success of illicit pleasures. 
It was as bad as is the triumph of modern mediums of a 
questionable character. 

But F. Lenormant has a simple way of accounting for 
this apparent inconsistency, as regards the Egyptians. In 
their magic there is no manner of Demonology, but a con- 
fraternity of men and gods. 

^' The mother idea " says he, " of all the magic formulae 
against the plagues of life, and against all evil-working 
animals, is always the assimilation to the gods, which pro- 
duces the virtue of the words of enchantment, and which 
shelters man from danger. Thus, the formula does not 
consist in an invocation to the Divine Power, but in the fact 
of proclaiming that one is such and such god ; and when 
the man who pronounces the incantation calls to his succour 
some personages of the Pantheon, it is as one of them, who 
has the right to the aid of his companion of divinity." 

This lets in fresh light upon the history of magic in 
Egypt. Under the Ancient Empire, and for some time 
after, the gods stand out as something apart from men. It 
is true their offices run into one another mysteriously, so 
that one is the other, still the divinity is a being absolutely 
removed from man. The dead might be called Osiris, 
being supposed allied to the resurrected one, yet no liv- 
ing person identifies himself with deity. But, as Lenor- 
mant shows, the magic formulae distinctly go upon the 
assumption that man and god are one and the same, or 
parts of the same, and that thus the magician can boldly 
demand the help of the celestial. Wc know as a fact that 
Pantheistic ideas prevailed in the latter dynasties of the 
monarchy, so that we may safely declare ordinary magic 
comparatively modern. 

Religion of Jlfagic. 341 

But while the Egyptian magician called himself Horns, 
and so claimed the auxiliary of Isis or Nephthys, he did 
not, as in Babylon, consort with demons, properly so 
called, for the purposes of his craft. Demonology or Black 
Magic was totally unknown by the Nile. It flourished 
later on the Euphrates, spread westward, and gained its 
chief honours as late as the Protestant era ; it being as- 
serted that 100,000 witches were destroyed in Protestant 
countries alone. This Demonology is Magianism as op- 
posed to Sabseism, and Turanian rather than Aryan, though 
the Tzuo Principles idea of Zoroastrianism. helped to de- 
velop it. The Devil of the Middle Ages and of the Talmud 
was not of Egyptian, but Babylonian and Persian origin. 
Demonology belongs to the Tartar race, where it still reigns 
in spite of Confucius or of Buddha, and still has its abode 
with the Finns of Europe and Samoides of Russian Asia. 

It may be that the utterance of these powerful charms 
had something to do with this identification of the magician 
and his god. These words, hidden from the vulgar, had 
their secret influence intensified by the will of the utterer, 
who lived a life of self-mortification, making the body sit 
lightly upon the soul. 

This dependence upon words seems odd to us. But the 
contest of Nominalists and Realists down to our own 
time proves there is something in a name even though a 
rose. The vain repetitions, denounced by the Saviour, have 
been continued in His Church, and virtue is still attached 
to the number of times a certain form of words can be 
uttered. The cry of " Kyrie Eleison" in the Russian Church 
is a familiar example of magical formula. 

In Egyptian magic Horus and Set, or Typhon, the good 
being and the bad, find their place. Horus pierced the 
dragon or serpent, and is entreated to keep Set from plagu- 
ing the living and dead. Hence, formulae are more or less 

342 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thoiight. 

after this fashion :—'' l^ack ! back ! turn thy face from 
me !" " It is Set, the aspic, the evil serpent, whom venom 
is burning." '' Come ! Hft up thyself, Osiris-Sap, for thy 
enemies are beaten down." " Be not against me ! I am 
Amoun, I am Anhour, the great guardian. I am the great 
master of the sword." " O sheep ! son of sheep ! permit 
not that the deceased be bitten by any male or female 
serpent, by any scorpion, by any reptile." The Chaldeans 
cried out " Hilka-besha ! go away evil one !" 

In the Ritual many directions are given as to the pre- 
paration and employment of formulae. Chapter 30 has 
the incantation upon the stone scarabeus to be placed on 
the breast of the mummy. The soul had such terrible 
dangers to encounter in its passage through the Halls of 
Hades, on its way to Paradise, that it needed not only the 
ordinary prayers from living friends, but magical utter- 
ances, for divine help. Chapter 64 says, "After having 
made a phylactery soaked in oil, recite magically below. 
My heart is my mother ; my heart is my transformation." 
Other chapters set forth how Set and his monstrous crew 
of snakes and scorpions may be circumvented. 

Exorcism, still a prerogative of priests in the Christian 
Church, was practised with as successful an issue by Egyp- 
tian priests. But modern exorcism deals in Black Magic, 
and is directed only against Satan. Olden exorcism ap- 
plied to gods, not always mischievous, but able to hurt, 
and to certain spiritual evils typified by creatures ; such as, 
the crocodile, serpent, hippopotamus, etc. These were 
generally abjured, as by Babylonian Jews of pre-christian 
times, in the name of the Trinity. The formula should be 
repeated seven times. 

Amulets were very desirable then, as they are now held 
to be in most parts of Europe and Asia, especially against 
the evil eye. A form of words inscribed on a gem or 

Religion of Magic. 3^3 

other stone, or even muttered over an object by the right 
party, would preserve the wearer of the charm from many 
evils. The amulets are minutely described in chapters 
1 56-161 of the Ritual. They were of various material and 
form. There were rings, earrings, rods, seals, images of 
gods, the symbolical eye, animals, little altars and tats ; 
but, above all, crosses. Hypocephalic talismans were 
placed under the heads of mummies, and papyri-phylac- 
teries were borne on the garments by living and dead. 
Children in Egypt, as those in Italy and Russia now, wore 
a cross amulet next their flesh. The Abracadabra or 
Abrasax of modern magic is a corruption of an Egyptian 
formula — " Hurt me not." 

Assyria Vas strong in amulets and magical texts. 
Tablets from Nineveh are covered with incantations. 
Merodach, the god of Babylon is said to have gone about 
hunting up spells, being helped by his father Hea, in the 
contest with evil elementary spirits. Mr. Talbot has 
translated some Assyrian formulae : as, '' May the goddess 
turn his face in another direction, that the evil spirit may 
come out of him, and be thrust aside, that good spirits and 
good powers may dwell in his body." 

" Depart, thou evil spirit, from his body ! 
Whether thou art the sin of his father, 
Or whether thou art the sin of his mother," etc. 

Again : — 

" The god shall stand by his bedside : 

Those seven evil spirits he shall root out and expel from his body. 
And those seven shall never return to the sick man again." 

Directions are given : " In the night time bind round 
the sick man's head a sentence taken from a good book." 

On an ancient stele is a long story about a king having 
a possessed daughter, sending to Egypt for a cure. The 
messenger spoke thus to Ramses II.: ''The King, my 

344 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thottght. 

master, sent me to thy holiness because of Bentenrest, the 
young sister of the queen Ra-Neferou. A secret malady 
consumes her. Will thy holiness deign to send her one of 
those men who know all things ? " A magician was des- 
patched. He must have been a formidable character, 
judging by the account on the stele : " On reaching the 
place where the princess Bentenrest was, the spirit that 
beset her humiliated itself before him, and said, ' Welcome 
to thee, mighty god, conqueror of those who rebel ! I am 
thy slave ; I shall be no more hindrance to the purpose of 
thy journey, but shall return to the place whence I came.'" 
He was as good as his word, and the young lady was freed. 

But though smiling at magic, there was a theurgy of a 
higher and purer sort, belonging to an early epoch, and 
which- was elevating and purifying to man. The Emperor 
Julian the Apostate has left a reference to it, which, cleared 
in its phraseology, would be gratefully recognized by some 
now. He says : — 

" For the inspiration which arrives to men from the gods 
is rare, and exists but in a few. Nor is it easy for every 
man to partake of this, nor at every time. It has ceased 
among the Hebrews, nor is it preserved to the present time 
among the Egyptians. Spontaneous oracles, also, are seen 
to yield to temporary periods. This, however, our philan- 
thropic lord and father, Jupiter, understanding that we 
might not be entirely deprived of communion with the 
gods, has given us observation through sacred arts, by 
which we have at hand sufficient assistance." 


SECRET associations have existed from the most re- 
mote times. The Egyptian priesthood was certainly 
in full force before the date of the pyramids, and it was 
a band of secret-keepers. The presence of symbols in the 
ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Babylon, Nineveh, Persepolis, 
Troy, and Mexico, indicates a hidden meaning confided to 
one set of men. All mythologies are founded upon secrets. 
Ancient buildings, as pyramids, temples, etc., have their 
specific value to the student in the secrets they manifestly 

All these circumstances lead to the supposition that, in 
the organization of certain initiated persons, there existed 
formerly a knowledge never entrusted to the world outside. ' 
Hence the word Mysteries ; from a word meaning a veil. 

Were the Mysteries religious } They were always asso- 
ciated with religion. The rites were performed in religious 
edifices, and by religious persons. Their symbols were 
connected with worship. They were eminently bound up 
with Isis and Osiris. Maurice, speaking of the Nile island 
of Philae, says, " It was in these gloomy caverns that the 
grand and mystic arcana of this goddess (Isis) were un- 
folded to the adoring aspirant, while the solemn hymn of 
initiation resounded through the long extent of these stony 

Such mysteries no longer exist in Egypt and Assyria, 
though still followed in India, and in connection with the 
caverns beneath old temples. Apuleius, in his " Metamor- 

346 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought, 

piloses," laughs out a few hints of initiation. Virgil, in his 
Sixth Book, distinctly discourses of it ; Voltaire said it is 
" only a description of the mysteries of Isis." Apuleius 
ventures upon the procession of Isis. The Mysteries of 
Ceres and Bacchus in Greece were imitations of the Egyp- 
tian. Our word chapel, or capella, is said to be the Caph-El 
or college of El, the solar divinity. The well known Cabiri 
are associated with the mysteries. 

Freemasonry, which still retains all the symbols of the 
ancient mysteries, has been conjectured more a descendant 
from the Temple of Isis than Solomon's Temple. The 
Rev. Dr. Oliver, the Masonic authority, calls idolatry 
spurious Freemasojiry. It is a curious fact mentioned by 
Judge Strange; viz., "The possession of masonic know- 
ledge enabled Mr. Ellis, of the Madras Civil Service, a well 
known Orientalist, who flourished at the beginning of this 
century, to pass into the inner shrine of a Hindoo Temple." 
The dervishes, who are Mahometan freemasons, have much 
of the old mysticism. The author of the " Book of God " 
is pleased to say, that the freemasons '' have lost the secret 
of their craft " ; and that they " have changed their Isaiac 
rites into a broad jargon of Judaism and bastard Christi- 
anity." The Parisian freemasons have lately relieved 
themselves of these modern attachments, even removing 
the name of God from their formulae ; they have even dis- 
pensed with the cross, so prominent and essential a part of 
Egyptian mysteries, since it has now become associated 
with clericalism, their antagonist. It is because the Cath- 
olic Church has believed freemasonry the perpetuation of 
old heathenish rites that it opposes the craft. The Knight 
Templars, abandoned by the Church, and burnt as heretics 
by the State, had not only the symbols of freemasonry, as 
still to be seen about the Temple Church in London, but 
were doubtless secret practisers of old rites not savouring of 

Religion of the Alysteries. 347 

Christianity. Modern English masons cannot be charged 
with having any collective opinion on the mysteries. 

Mrs. Belzoni, wife of the Egyptian explorer, wrote an 
essay on "Antediluvian and Egyptian Freemasonry." The 
materials she gathered from a tomb near Thebes. Pictures 
describe an Initiation of the King, girded with the apron 
in The Masonic Hall. The High Priest, the Grand Master, 
is seated on his throne, covered with mystic signs, and 
bearing an inscription thus rendered by Dr. Young : " To 
the Sacred Father of the Protecting Powers, Living, Un- 
changeable, Governing, etc." One person is represented 
near with a key. 

This reminds one of the astrolabe, discovered at Nine- 
veh by Mr. Layard, which, says Mr. Henry Melville, author 
of ''Veritas," is a representation of an Initiation. The cross- 
bars within the circle are equinoctial and solstitial colures, 
and the circular belt is the ecliptic, having 52 points for 
weeks. The 13 houses round are lunar months. The 
white horse, triangle, square, tan, cone, horns, vase, books, 
altar, crown, two pillars, strong man, cable tau, bow, rod, 
and other masonic accessories are there. 

M. F. Lenormant discovers the epopti, or initiated, in 
Egypt ; saying, " The funeral Ritual has, the same as the 
religion of Eleusis, two principal divisions ; we have char- 
acterized the first, which responds to the preparatory mys- 
tery. In the second, the soul of the dead is admitted to the 
contemplation of the divine substances, and it is there that 
the mystery of the epopti is offered to us." But his view 
of the subject is that it was " absolute Pantheism." A 
Boston Masonic work states : " In Egypt the candidate 
was placed naked in a cavity made in the earth, on which 
a species of perforated floor was placed, whereon a bull 
was placed, and the initiate beneath was literally baptized 
with blood." Aristotle contents himself with saying that 

34^ Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght, 

the rites were " the most horrible, and the most ravishly 

A curious passage in Ecclesiasticus has been referred to 
Initiation : "At first she (Wisdom) will walk with him by 
crooked ways, and bring fear and dread upon him, and 
torment him with her discipline, until she may trust his 
soul, and try him by her laws. Then will she return the 
straight way unto him, and comfort him, and show him her 
secrets." Some will interpret this. We still keep up the 
" Laying on of hands " adopted in the mysteries. 

Plato tells us that "the design of the mysteries is to lead 
us back to the perfection from which, as a principle, we 
first made our descent." He owned it " difificult to find 
the Father and creator of the universe ; and, when found, 
impossible to discover him to all the world." Strabo says : 
"The secret celebration of the mysteries preserves the 
majesty due to the Divinity, and, at the same time, imitates 
its nature, which hides itself from our senses." Proclus, 
apparently initiated in Egypt, deals in parables when say- 
ing, " In all mystic sacrifices and mysteries, the gods ex- 
hibit many forms of themselves, and appear in a variety of 
shapes." Aristotle considered " the welfare of Greece was 
secured by the Eleusinian Mysteries." Socrates affirms : 
" Those who are acquainted with the mysteries insure to 
themselves very pleasing hopes against the hour of death, 
as well as for the whole of their lives." 

Epictetus thought they were " to regulate the life of 
man." Cicero wrote: "When these mysteries are ex- 
plained, we prove not to have learned so much the nature 
of the gods, as that of the things themselves, or of the 
truths we stand in need of." Sallust says : " The intention 
of all mystic ceremonies is to conjoin us with the world and 
the gods." Plutarch strongly affirms that in them " the 
first cause of all tilings is communicated." Clement of 

Religion of the Mysteries. 349 

Alexandria, a Christian Father, left this testimony : " The 
doctrines delivered in the greater mysteries are concerning 
the universe. Here all instruction ends. Things are seen 
as they are ; and nature, and the things of nature, are 
given to be comprehended." 

The Egyptian Mysteries may, at first, have had something 
to tell; and that something, whether distinctly religious 
or not, was bound to be of service to the State, or the king 
would not have been at the head thereof. In the early 
purity of the country they were, doubtless, purer than in 
subsequent corrupt Ptolemaic days. Cunning and bad men 
afterwards often used them for evil purposes. The noble 
priesthood sunk to jugglery. The initiated then, perhaps, 
held the sentiments falsely or truly attributed to Gregory 
Nazianzen, in a letter to Jerome : — 

"A little jargon is all that is necessary to Impose on the 
people. The less they understand the more they admire. 
Our forefathers and doctors of the Church have often said 
not what they taught, but what circumstances and necessity 
dictated to them." 

The Abbot of the Monastery of Peapolis wrote thus, in 
1 5 10, to Cornelius Agrippa, the astrologer of Charles V. : 
" Yet this rule I advise you, that you communicate vulgar 
secrets to vulgar friends, but higher and secret to higher 
and secret friends only. Give hay to an ox, and sugar to 
a parrot only ; understand my meaning, lest you be trod 
under the oxen's feet^ as oftentimes it fell out." 

Mysteries are thus alluded to in the Egyptian Ritual : 
" This book is the greatest of mysteries. Do not let the 
eye of any one see it ; that is detestable. Learn it. Hide 
it." According to Origen, Moses communicated secrets to 
the seventy elders " from the hidden depths of the law." 
That Father adds : " The Egyptian philosophers have sub- 
lime notions with regard to the Divine nature, which they 

350 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought, 

keep secret, and never discover to the people but under a 
veil of fables and allegories." 

Philo remarks of the Rabbins: "They changed the words 
and precepts of wisdom into allegories, after the custom of 
their ancestors." Maimonides declares : '' Whoever shall 
find out the true sense of the Book of Genesis ought to 
take care not to divulge it." The author of " Veritas," is 
of opinion " that the wisdom of past ages was quite equal 
to that of the present generation, he therefore believes, as 
did the ancients, that the now hidden knowledge ought to 
be secretly and sacredly preserved among the learned, and 
not divulged to the ignorant multitude." 

According to Madame Blavatsky, the Egyptian neophyte 
passed through twelve tortures, and attained to perfection 
in seven degrees. On the statue of a High Priest of Mem- 
phis we have the following remarkable statement of his 
progress in the mysteries : ** He knew the dispositions of 
earth and hell ; there was nothing hidden from him ; he 
adored God, and glorified Him in His designs ; he covered 
with a veil the side of all that he had seen." 


AT least as early as the fourth dynasty, B.C. 4000, is 
found an established priesthood in Egypt. As upon 
a monument of the third, or pre-pyramid, dynasty are read 
the early sacred alphabet of fifteen letters, it may be safely 
supposed that priests were then in existence. When, then, 
in the remote past, did the organization of priests arise } 
Under what circumstances did it commence } Did it, on 
the whole, tend to the advantage of that country } 

If seven thousand years ago the hierarchy of Egypt was 
in force, it would be an interesting subject of enquiry 
whether that were indigenous, so to speak, or introduced 
from another land. As the Valley of the Nile is, by a long 
way, the oldest site of civilization actually known to us, 
we may uselessly wonder about the anterior locality of 
progress, or divine the possible primeval region of en- 
lightenment. Even in the discussion of Archbishop 
Whately's doctrine of Degradation of Races, we are con- 
sciously thrust back a long way for the date of original 
perfection, even to account for the presence of a priesthood 
in Egypt ; and we have no warrant to believe that some 
nation or nations had not priests at as early or even earlier 
a period. 

But these suggestive enquiries must be relinquished for 
the study of Priests in Egypt. 

Murtadi, the Arab philosopher, 1586, wrote thus: 
" The first who made an absolute profession of priesthood 
in Egypt, who brought religion into esteem — was Bardesor, 
son of Cophtarim, the son of Mazar, the son of Banzer, the 


Egyptian Belief and Modern Thoitght. 

son of Cham " (son of Noah). Bat in another part of his 
work we read of the priesthood : '' The first who then (after 
the Deluge) followed that profession was the son of 
Philemon, who had embarked in the ship with his father 
and sister, whom Noah had married to Banzar the son of 
Cham." The worthy Arab was guided by the Koran and 
tradition for this detailed information about the Deluge, 
etc., but may, very possibly, have been mistaken in his 
facts and names, as Egyptians knew not Noah's Deluge. 

The orders among the priesthood were three, according 
to Strabo ; four, according to Herodotus ; and six, as 
Plato understood. The celebrated tablet of sandstone, at 
San, refers to five. One frequently reads on steles the 
epitaph of first, second, or third priest of such a god. The 
four orders have been called Soten, Othphto, Nouto, Ba- 
chano ; the last being the lowest in rank. The Soteno 
wore a tall linen mitre, and the Nouto mounted a plate of 
gold with the crown of Lower Egypt. From an ancient 
inscription we gather that someone belonged to ''the order 
of the Divine Father." Some class the Soten or Sotem as 
readers of the liturgy ; the Kherheb, as master of temple 
ceremony ; the Sam, as chief of Memphis ; and the order 
of the Hersesheta, as high in mysteries. The priests filled 
an hereditary office, as the sons of Levi afterwards with 
the Israelites. Like the latter, also, they were constituted 
magistrates of the land. Duties of a special nature were 
discharged by them, and they claimed the right to elect 
from among themselves persons for certain offices ; as the 
BoideiLtai or counsellors, who presided over the revenue. 
There was a body of priests, termed on the monuments 
" Guardians of the Temple." 

Li addition to these were the Rckh-kJiet, who were the 
Magi, or " knowers of things." One is mentioned as the 
Ododedaskalos, or teacher of the Bards ; the latter formed 

Priests and Priestesses, 353 

a distinct order of priests, with particular training, and 
having more spiritual duties than the merely sacrificial. 
Ventriloquists were called into requisition to declare the 
will of the gods, especially from some miraculous images, 
endowed with the power of speech, as well as nodding, 
winking, or weeping. 

The PastopJiorus, or shrine-bearer, belonged to the sacer- 
dotal staff, and carried the Naos, or sacred box of the deity, 
and a fir-cone, In solemn processions. These processions, 
as in modern times, were occasions of great pomp, and 
were round the walls of the temple, accompanied by 
symbolic standards. The Odistes, singers and poets, were 
needful in processions. They were styled " minstrels of the 
gods," and chanted the service of the Church. A tomb 
gives the name of the '' chief of the odistes of the king." 
The discovery of a tablet told of one Tem-seb-hesu, "teller 
of instruction to the singers ; " In plain English, the choir- 
master. Then there were the respectable Flabebella, or 
fan-bearers, who were regularly invested for their office. 
Persistence of custom gives the Pope these fan-bearers, 
with huge ostrich-feather fans, in the papal processions. 

The Prophets are mentioned as distinct from ordinary 
priests. Each god has his prophet. As in Judaea, the 
office was a spiritual one. As there was a school of 
prophets in Elijah's day with the Israelites, so had it been 
before In Egypt. Monuments record first, second, or 
third prophets of Animon, etc. The principal of them 
acted as judges In the land. They are often seen with a 
water-pot or vase in hand, as the emblem of purification. 
They generally wore the leopard's skin, variously inter- 
preted, but which may refer to stars and stellar influence. 

Pyramid Prophets were devoted to worship in the temples 
before royal pyramids. Kings usually left revenues for the 
support of daily service at these monuments ; in other 

A A 

354 Egyptia7i Belief and Modem TJiottght. 

words, they left land or cash for the payment of masses for 
their souls. During the fifth and sixth dynasties such an 
office is often referred to. There was Tat-asu, head prophet 
of the tomb or pyramid of king Teta. Ouna, buried at 
Abydos, has an inscription of fifty vertical lines. On this 
it is stated ''never was any such work done to the satis- 
faction of his majesty by any other servant." He was sent 
to Elephantine by king Meri-en-ra, as thus noted : " His 
majesty sent to the Abhat country to bring an image of 
god as well as a naos, with its great door, and its pyra- 
midon, for the pyramid Meri-en-ra Scha-nefer. . . . 
And his majesty sent (also) to Elephantine for granite 
stones." He was commissioned as well to get a table of 
alabaster. But the Nile level did not permit him to finish 
his work : " and, behold, at that time there was not water 
enough to land by the pyramid." This refers to the 
erection of a pyramid about B.C. 3500, during the lifetime 
of the monarch, and the engagement of the prophet of the 
prospective pyramid to superintend its erection. It is 
not the only instance where the priest was the architect. 

We read of a secretary and prophet of the pyramid. One 
pyramid prophet is " charged with all the constructions of 
the king ; " that was during the sixth dynasty. Repeatedly 
do names occur of men who were priests of pyramids. 
These are in the cemetery of Abydos, of very early times. 
Priests of the pyramids of Rameri-en Scha-nefer, and Ra- 
meri-men-nefer, are particularly alluded to. 

The Scribes, as with the Jews, were included in the 
sacred circle. There were, however, men so styled who 
can hardly be deemed religious ; as, scribes of the royal 
treasury, military scribes, judicial scribes, and scribes of the 
wine cellar. The grammatc is the ordinary appellation. 
The Hierogrammate was a sacred scribe ; and the Basilico- 
grammate, a royal one attached to a temple. The Greeks 

Priests and Priestesses, 355 

called a scribe of the ^d^x Pterophore. The office is indicated 
by the presence of a roll of papyrus in hand or spread 
upon the knee, and the palette, or wooden contrivance for 
writing. The latter was from ten to fifteen inches long, 
and served as a writing tablet, being provided with pens, 
inks, and hollows for colours. Many of these, of sycamore 
wood, are well preserved in museums. 

The High Priest's office was, also, hereditary, as after- 
/ards with the house of Aaron. Herodotus, when in 
Thebes, was shown no less than 345 statues of successive 
high priests of Ammon. Allowing twelve years' average 
to each, the first might have lived five thousand years 
before the Christian era. There is an interesting mention 
of a first pontiff of Memphis during the reigns of Menkaura 
and Userkaf, both of the fourth dynasty, by whom the 
Great Pyramid was raised. The high priest in the time of 
Thothmes III., B.C. 1700, appears, says Mariette Bey, in full 
costume. M. Deveria speaks of a contemporary of Moses 
and Aaron, one Baken-Khonsou, high-priest of Ammon, 
and principal architect of Thebes. The first prophets or 
high priests were always epistalce or superintendents of 
temples, and had control of the finances thereof. The 
high-priest of On, or Heliopolis— the daughter of one of 
whom married Joseph, and became the mother of two tribes 
of Israel— was the Pontifex Maximiis of Egypt. In the 
Jewish Targum he is styled Prince, but in Coptic' he is 
simply high priest. As the head of the most ancient 
worship, that of the sun, he was the uncelibate Pope of 
the country. 

The king was, however, esteemed the Head of the Church, 
and is repeatedly described as holy priest upon monuments. 
He was the Lord's anointed. He is often depicted officia- 
ting as high priest at the altar. Shufu, the predecessor of 
Cheops, is called on the tablet at the copper mines of 

35^ Egyptian Belief and Modern Thoiight. 

Mount Sinai, " pure king and sacred priest." One of the 
most remarkable pictures in the British Museum represents 
Thothmes III. with priest's robes and holy sacramental 
bread. Solomon, who organized the Jev/ish Church at the 
first temple, took upon himself, after the fashion of his 
father-in-law, the Egyptian king, all the duties of Head of 
the Church ; and, in the solemn dedication of the edifice by 
prayer, and in the offering of sheep and cattle, he ignored 
the Aaronic dispensation, and assumed a position never 
aspired to by his pious father David, who was by no means 
Egyptian in his theology and practice. 

Priests were properly educated for their office in Egypt, 
and were duly ordained and consecrated, according to a 
fixed service, and set apart by laying on of hands. These 
ceremonies have been in use during all periods, and through 
all shades of religious belief In some modern forms of 
faith, the old Egyptian mode of bestowal of priestly blessing 
is still pursued. This was by holding up two fingers 
and a thumb, or three fingers, and inclining them toward 
the favoured individuals. Why the Egyptian priests had 
this usage is not clear. While some authorities consider 
it related to the cross or phallus, others deem it an 
acknowledgment of some one of the Egyptian Trinities. 

Every priest had his wife. He could not, as in Judea, 
have more than one. He was not, as enforced in the 
Greek Church and as in the primitive Christian Church, de- 
prived of the chance of a second in the event of the death 
of the first partner. The priest's wife was ennobled by her 
marriage. The prejudices of the mediaeval Romish Church 
are still continued in England, as the wife of His Grace 
of Canterbury is simply styled Mistress. The Egyptians, 
who always honoured their wives, in a way incomprehen- 
sible to a Greek, or a Jew, exalted the lady of a priest to 
equal distinction with himself in society. 

Pidests and Priestesses. 357 

Priests have been well cared for in all ages, and 
were especially looked after in Egypt. Heeren writes : 
" When Joseph became elevated in Egypt, the first step 
he took was to connect himself by marriage with the priest 
caste." Belonging to an established Church, they had 
public funds to draw upon. The rental of one-third of 
the land was said to belong to them. Without doubt their 
estates were better managed than those of the royal and 
military castes. Besides state pay, they received in many 
instances daily rations of food, and the profit of sacrificial 
work. The disorders attending the ministrations of the 
sons of Eli and Samuel could not occur in so well governed 
a country as Egypt. The tariff of charges for all priestly 
offices were fixed and maintained. 

A curious Phoenician inscription on a tablet found at 
Marseilles, once a Phoenician settlement, illustrates ancient 
sacerdotal ways and means. The declaration of this rem- 
nant of a temple of Baal is respecting offerings. Among 
other particulars, it is stated that " the skin, the loins, and 
the feet, and the remainder of the flesh belong to the giver 
of the sacrifice." The tariff allows the priest one shekel 
upon a ram or goat, and three-quarters of a shekel upon a 
lamb, a kid, or a bird. Mean devotees, of the class putting 
a doubtful shilling into the plate, are warned that '' every- 
thing leprous, and everything mangy, and everything thin, 
is void." But as priests had not a perfect character for 
honesty in those distant times, they have their note of 
warning in these words : "Every priest who takes a viass 
fee beyond what is decreed on this tablet shall be fined." 

It is usual, with some, to credit priests of all religions 
with a deal of craft, hypocrisy, and self-deception. As 
human nature does not appear to differ much from age to 
age in the general sum-total of its virtues, though some 
vices may be more practised at one period than at another, 

358 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

there is no warrant for the broad accusation. It is as 
likely that ministers of the Protestant Churches are faith- 
less to the creeds they are paid to support, as that Romish 
priests should be. The latter may be presumed as honest 
to their convictions as the others. And, although Cicero 
wondered how two augurs could look into each other's 
faces without laughing, the infidelity which then governed 
Roman society never prevailed in Egypt for, at least, 
three or four thousands of years. The ordinary Egyptian 
priest was ordinarily a decent man, as honest as his 
neighbours, and truly believing in the gods he taught the 
people to revere. There can be no manner of doubt that 
many a priest was godly, in the modern acceptation of the 
term : fulfilling his duty to his fellows, and conscientiously 
and benevolently discharging his priestly obligations, 
prayerfully mindful of the presence of Deity in his own 
heart, and hopefully looking beyond the grave for holier 
service and more complete communion with true divinity. 

In dress and appearance they were distinguished from 
their fellows, as priests have uniformly been, and still are. 

Personally, they were the essence of ceremonial cleanli- 
ness. Excepting one lock of hair at the right side, with 
some, they were a clean shaven race. Every part of their 
body exposed to the growth of hair was kept clear by the 
razor ; affording, in this respect, a singular variation from 
the practice of the Hebrew nation. The Levites, however, 
were commanded (Num. viii. 7) to "shave all their flesh." 
But of the priests it was said (Lev. xxi. 5), "They shall not 
make baldness upon their heads." This has evidently a 
reference to the Tonsure or circle of baldness. Herodotus 
rightly gives the origin of it — sun worship. It was known, 
also, in India, China, etc. The tonsure of the priests of 
Bacchus was styled the '' circle of light." The worship- 
pers of the Persian Mithra, as well as Chaldeans and 

Priests and Priestesses. 359 

Scythians, practised the tonsure, which is retained by some 
Christian communities. 

The mitre of the Egyptian priest is perpetuated to our 
day. Layard gives in his " Nineveh " the representation 
of the god Cannes of Assyria, the head of the fish forming 
the mitre. Osiris has the mitre. When the leopard skin 
was worn, the head hung over the right shoulder. Linen, 
not wool, formed the material for dress. The Basoui was 
of one piece of cloth. Some priests, who for pious reasons 
made eunuchs of themselves, wore female dresses, as those 
of Cybele did. Some garments were full, others scanty. 
Priests are seen with a sort of apron, and loose upper 
robe with sleeves ; or the apron and shirt, but short, tight 
sleeves. The mode of investiture was as described 'in 
Exodus. Bells and pomegranates were, also, as with Jewish 
priests, worn on the hem of the robe. The general 
character of dress leads an author to observe : " The 
surplices, robes, and fantastic adornments of high eccle- 
siasticism are simply the imitations of women's garments, 
which the priests of antiquity wore to indicate that God 
was both male and female." 

No priest could eat of any fish from the Nile ; nor could 
he partake of beans, peas, pork, mutton, leeks, garlic, and 
onions. A curious tablet records the excommunication of 
the Tumpesi for indulging in raw meat. 

Priestesses were numerous. The lowest order officiated 
as dancers and singers. Others are seen on monuments 
offering sacrifices to Isis, etc. The San stone refers to the 
Didymce or Twins, an inferior sort, who were allowed, 
according to the inscription, ten gallons of oil of sesame 
with nine bushels of barley a month, besides a daily pro- 
vision of three loaves. A tablet distinctly says : " They 
are to make sacrifices on the altar with all things appointed 
to be done on the days of the festival, — performing the 

360 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

ceremonies of the statue of that goddess as they wish ; 
then that goddess is to be adored by the sd, or priestesses 
selected." The Spondists were below priestesses. 

Under the Ancient Empire they are represented with 
a short dress. The wives of priests, in later times, were 
known as the Parthcnoi, and were allowed certain rations 
on account of some temple service. Daughters and sisters 
of priests are repeatedly mentioned as being employed 
in holy duties, and receiving a stated allowance of food. 
The CanepJioros were the basket-bearers of the gods. 
Female prophets are occasionally named, even under the 
Ancient Empire. Mothers of priests are represented 
among the " holy women." Some priestesses were Divin- 
ers, having spiritual gifts for the discerning of thoughts, 
the revelation of dreams, the knowledge of secrets, and 
the power of prevision. Some women even appear in 
connection with the Egyptian oracles. 

Herodotus spoke of sacred women, dedicated to the 
Theban Jove, who were known as Hicrodidcs. Rosellini 
wrote : " It was a custom in the earliest periods of the 
Pharaohs to place by this rite some of the king's daughters 
in nearer relation to religion." Wilkinson says : " Wives 
and daughters of the noblest families of the country, of the 
high priests,, and of the kings themselves, were proud to 
enjoy the honour it conferred." The wife of Cephrenes, 
builder of the Second Pyramid, was priestess of Thoth. 

Gossipping Murtadi has this pretty story of a great-great- 
granddaughter of Noah : " As to the princess Badoura, she 
was a strong woman, and, as they say, the sister of 
Bardesir (great-grandson of Ham), and that he gave her 
his art of priesthood and divination, whereupon she made 
most of the talismans in the pyramids. She also made 
the speaking idols in Memphis. The priesthood continued 
in her family." 

Priests and Priestesses. 361 

A word about Nuns. 

These " holy women " were incorporated in ancient 
Egypt. Herodotus says : *' The brides of Amnion were 
excluded from all intercourse with men." Nuns were 
then, as now, styled " Brides of Heaven." They were 
then, as now, solemnly set apart for the use of the gods, 
being henceforth pronounced dead to the world. It was 
natural they should be specially devoted to Ammon, since 
he is the sun ; and that luminary has, over Asia as well as 
America and Africa, had his virgin brides. They were 
" Pure virgins of the sun." The Pallakists of Ammon-Ra 
are styled " concubines of the god," and " divine spouses." 

Mariette Bey has an account of Taia, sister of Oun- 
nefer, first prophet of Osiris during the reign of Ramses H. 
On the tablet she is described as " Lady Abbess of Nuns " 
at the temple there. But the lot of the nuns was not so 
bad after all. They had great honour and reverence 
while brides of the god ; but might, when they pleased, 
get a divorce from their celestial spouse, and contract con- 
jugal relations with one lower even than the angels, a poor, 
wayward, humble creature, but a man for all that. Strabo 
tells his readers : " When they wished to marry, there was 
previously a great lamentation made for them, as for one 
dead." The Egyptian nuns were, therefore, better off than 
Brides of the Sun in Peru, who could only escape the 
virginal weariness of the nunnery by a marriage with the 


MISCONCEPTIONS exist upon this subject. Persons 
have supposed the temple services of Egypt, and 
those of Jerusalem, to have constitued the main worship of 
the people in those times. But, excepting the great cele- 
brations, as Dedications and Anniversaries, or prominent 
festivals, there is reason to believe that temples and people 
had little connection. 

In the history of temples, we have one man, a king, 
figuring as the builder, dedicator, and leading feature. It 
was so in Egypt, it was so in Jerusalem. In the last in- 
stance, according to Holy Scripture, though intended by 
David for Jehovah, it was, by Solomon and other kings, 
used as a royal edifice for the worship of various heathen 
deities. There is reason to believe that David had no 
such view, but a higher and broader one than the personal ; 
and there is no doubt that the second temple was strictly 
national. In all Egyptian temples, not absolutely in ruin, 
we observe the evidence of their being, as it were, private 
royal establishments. The walls are covered with huge 
paintings, illustrative of the life of the sovereign. Mariette 
remarks on the seven vaulted sanctuaries of the Abydos 
temple, " Is it consecrated to a single deity, who would be 
Osiris, or to seven gods 1 " 

It seems probable that, like as pyramids, or rather, the 
chapels attached to them, were for the worship of the soul of 
the kings who built them, so temples answered to the votive 
chapels still found in continental churches and cathedrals, 
in which service for the founder is carried on through 

Temple Worship. 363 

money left for the purpose. As in Europe now, so in 
Egypt then, those who had the power and wealth used 
them for their own soul's good in life and after death. 
Mariette Bey declares " the temple was a sort of sacristy 
into which only kings and priests entered." 

But testimony is not wanting to the fact that special 
funds were set aside by the builder, or successive builders, 
of a temple, as in times long before by the builders of a 
pyramid, in order that services for the advantage of the 
soul of the departed might be carried on through all 
time. It is doubtless true that, in addition to this, there 
was a quasi national worship within the walls, and that 
the people trooped thither on solemn festivals. More than 
this, we know that some temples were regarded as truly 
national ; as, that of Ammon in the Oasis, of Osiris at 
Abydos, etc. Here the gathering was of the people, was 
free, and the service was not primarily associated with 
kings. As there are no remains of temples belonging to 
the Ancient Empire, — unless we include the simple un- 
adorned sphinx temple, with no pictures and no gods, or 
that of Ouadi, Nubia, of the twelfth dynasty, — we may be 
warranted in saying that not until the decadence of right 
principles in Egypt, and the gradual slide into pantheism, 
were temples other than national. 

The opinion of Mariette Bey is always weighty. On this 
subject he writes : — 

" It would be a mistake to look at an Egyptian temple 
in the light of a church, or even of the Greek temple. Here 
no public worship is performed ; the faithful do not congre- 
gate for public prayer ; indeed, no one is admitted inside 
except the priests. The temple is a royal proscyneum, or 
exvoto ; that is, a token of piety from the king who erected 
it, in order to preserve the favour of the gods. It is a kind 
of royal oratory, and nothing more." He draws attention 

364 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

to the fact that the pictures on the walls, are about the 
king and his offerings to the gods, as well as to his con- 
quests and works. 

Temples had a paved outer court, lined with trees and 
sphinxes. Strabo says that the Dromos or avenue was 300 
to 400 feet long by 100 broad, having a double row of 
stone sphinxes, about 30 feet apart. The Bubastis temple 
enclosure, 600 by 600 feet, had a grove of lofty trees. The 
wall was always rectangular, and more often of sun-dried 
bricks than of stone. 

The Propylaea, Pylons or gateways, having apartments, 
were of massive stone, of enormous size, the frustrum of a 
pyramid in shape, whose huge walls were covered with 
pictures and hieroglyphics. They led to the inner court. 
The Cella, Sekos, or temple proper, was comparatively 
small, though generally much larger than the cclla of 
Solomon's temple. The Book of Chronicles states that the 
latter was 60 cubits long by 20 broad ; about 100 feet by 
35. One hall alone of Karnac temple is 334 feet by 167. 

By reading the account of Solomon's temple in the third 
chapter of the Second Book of Chronicles, and the sixth, 
seventh, and eighth chapters of the First Book of Kings, 
one may form a good conception of an ancient Egyptian 
temple. While the temple was 60 cubits by 20 in size, 
one of Solomon's palaces was 100 by 50. The height of 
that of Jerusalem was 30 cubits. Even the porch or 
pronaos, imitating that of Egypt, was 20 cubits long, but 
120 high. Clement of Alexandria gives a glowing descrip- 
tion of these Egyptian edifices. " Their walls," says he, 
"glitter with precious stones, and with most skilfully 
executed paintings, the shrines blaze with gold, and silver, 
and amber, and with variegated marbles from India and 
Ethiopia." There were corridors, halls, rooms for priests, 
and secret passages ; some of the latter led to the crypts 

Temple Worship. 365 

below, where sacred objects used in processions were 
stowed away. The rooms, or chambers, in Solomon's 
temple were small — only eight to twelve feet long, and 
built round the main building. 

The Oracle in the Book of Kings is the vwst holy place of 
the Chronicles. This was twenty cubits long, twenty broad, 
and twenty high, answering to the sanctuary of the Egyp- 
tian temple, or the AdyUun of the Greeks. Clement 
speaks of one in Egypt thus : *' The Adytum or most 
sacred place is overshadowed by a certain abundance of 
gold." Solomon overlaid his with fine gold. The Tract 
Society's work, already alluded to, says this Egyptian 
Adytum " was, in the estimation of the people, the holy of 
holies." Both appear to have had gigantic cherubim, or 
winged figures, in addition to the Ark and other sacred 
symbols, not forgetting the table of sacred bread, or 
cake offerings. 

But there the parallel ceased. The oracle of Jerusalem 
was, doubtless, intended for the higher celebrations of the 
high priest, as was that of Egyptian temples. But, while 
the one pertained to the simple worship of the God in 
whom David trusted, to whom were addressed those 
psalms, which for pathos, purity, and enlightened sentiment 
are still preferred by us in worship in these Christian days, 
the other oracle was devoted to mysteries little compre- 
hended by the mass. It was called " the birthplace of 
Horus." All the solemn rites of Osiris were there per- 
formed. In later temples, hke that of Denderah, the de- 
veloped system appeared in full force. One chamber was 
for one part of the service ; a second, a third, and a fourth 
came into successive use. Here the sorrows of Isis, weep- 
ing for her lord, were commemorated ; there, her invoca- 
tions for his recovery ; elsewhere, the triumphs of Osiris over 
death, or of Horus the resurrected and victorious Saviour. 

366 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thotigkt, 

It may justly be asked, where was the worship of the 
Egyptians, if not in the temple ? 

As synagogues were scattered through the land of the 
Jews, and some analogous means provided at an earlier 
period of their history, so were the towns and villages of 
Egypt not left destitute of religious instruction, and oppor- 
tunities for worship. If, as has been stated by ancient 
authors, one third of the land was appropriated for the 
revenue of the priesthood, there could have been no lack 
of priests. These were the teachers in schools, so widely 
spread in Egypt, and the leaders in the devotions of the 
people. Parents, however, were sufficiently instructed, we 
find, in that early period, to lead the morning and evening 
prayers of their families. No religion could have held its 
ground, as that did, for perhaps five or six thousand years, 
if dependent upon temple services. 

The worship in temples may, however, be accepted as a 
model of that adopted elsewhere, though fuller and more 
ornate. The place, being sacred, was not to be profaned by 
questionable practices. As no priest could while engaged 
in his profession partake of wine, so, we are assured, no 
wine could on any pretence be ever drank within temple 

As to demonstrative display, there was little difference 
between Thebes and Jerusalem. In fact, the accomplished 
Secretary of the Society of Biblical Archaeology writes : 
" The same principle of excessive ritualism was common 
both to the Aryan and Semitic religions." Mariette Bey 
informs us that " the worship consisted of prayers, recited 
within the t emple in the name of the king, and, above 
all, of processions." Of the Liturgy and Litanies we have 
abundant specimens in copies of the sacred Scriptures of 
the Egyptians, especially the " Book of Manifestation to 
Light." The prayers were devotional and solemn, for 

Temple Worship. 367 

reverence was the one leading feature of that ancient 

Music was an important part of the temple service, as it 
was of the processions. The Gregorian of the Church is 
reputed of Egyptian origin. Instrumental music, as may- 
be seen by paintings on temple walls, was extensively em- 
ployed ; that spoken of at Jerusalem was similar. 

Singing was chiefly by female voices. In this respect 
the Christian Church, excepting among Protestants, has 
not adopted the Egyptian but the Jewish mode. On the 
banks of the Nile, women were free, and on an equality 
with men in worship. In Judea, on the contrary, they 
were less favoured. They were not permitted to enter with 
men into the temple ; they, married or single, could not 
therefore take part, as in Egypt, in temple singing. The 
Church, that early separated women from men, and that, 
as may still be seen in the ancient Latin and Greek 
churches of Constantinople, put females away up aloft in 
latticed cages, could not sanction the admission of female 
singers. There is, at present, in England a dangerous 
tendency to re-adopt this mediaeval barbarism in church 

According to Herodotus, "the men beat upon small 
drums, while some of the men play on the flute. The 
rest of the people, of both sexes, sing, clapping their hands 
together at the same time." He speaks of a famous hymn. 
" The Egyptians," declares he, " sing the song of Linus, 
like that sung in Phoenicia, Cyprus, and other countries. 
But the person they praise in this song is evidently the 
same whom the Greeks celebrate under the name of Linus. 
The Egyptians call him Maneros (Osiris), and they say 
that he was the only son of the first king of Egypt. 
Happening to die in the prime of hfe, he is lamented by 
the people in this dirge." 

368 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

Mr. Sharpe remarks on this : " The death of Osiris was 
piously lamented by Isis and her sister Nephthys ; and 
once in a year the Egyptians joined their priests in 
melancholy procession through the streets, singing a 
doleful ditty, called the Maneros, or ' Song of Love,' 
which was to console the goddess for the death of her 

The Processions were a leading feature then of 
Egyptian church service. Though occasionally through 
the streets and fields, they were mainly then in and around 
the sacred building. 

The cross-bearer led the way, followed by standard- 
bearers, shrine-bearers, priests, singers, musicians, etc. The 
Ark, or holy box, was the prominent object. Then was 
seen a priest carrying a sacred vessel, walking beneath a 
canopy. The golden shrines are mentioned on the Rosetta 
stone of the British Museum. When upon the Nile, the 
Ark was borne in the sacred boat. Quintius Curtius once 
wrote: "On consulting the god at the Oasis of Ammon, 
it was customary for the priests to carry a gilded boat, 
ornamented with numerous silver paterae hanging from 
both its sides, behind which followed a train of matrons 
and virgins singing a certain uncouth hymn in the manner 
of their country, with a view to propitiate the deity, and 
induce him to return a satisfactory answer." 

The ordinary shrine carried in procession was the Naos. 
This was a box in which was exposed to view the image of 
some divinity. It was provided with a door. Something 
like it may still be seen on the altar in Europe. It is 
unlocked with awe, and the personified Deity, the sacred 
Host, is taken from the shrine, and held up to the kneeling 
congregation. Because of the presence of this shrine in 
Roman Catholic processions, Protestant countries have 
passed laws to prevent the practice. 

Temple Worship. 369 

The temple curtain fell on the exit of a procession, as 
darkness was supposed to fall meanwhile upon the building. 
In all heathen countries, the curtain fell after the sun, the 
chief object of worship, had obtained his meridian. The 
same practice is continued in conservative Italy, where the 
great leathern outer doorways are dropped when the clock 
strikes twelve at noon. 

The Hierophori, or sacred bearers, carried a great variety 
of things, many of which are particularized in the chap- 
ter of *' Symbolic Religion," The Books of Hermes, or 
sacred Scriptures, were borne after the singers, and before 
the Horoscopus with the hour glass. Hiero-grammates 
had their papyrus rolls and palettes of scribes ; and the 
Stolistes, the cubit and cup. The Pontiff was there in his 
leopard skin, and the Prophet held the sacred vase. Others 
bore the holy bread, the torch etc. The Ark was carried 
by four priests with poles and rings. Singing boys in their 
surplices then, as now, marched along. 

Holy dancing was no unimportant part of the proceed- 
ings. The paintings give us the very steps employed so 
long ago. The Hebrew word for a festival is dance. So 
the Bacchantes of Greece, etc., danced before the Ark. 

The festivals were then, as now, astronomical epochs ; 
illustrating the early connection of science and religion. 
Nominally relating to circumstances in the life of Osiris, 
Isis, Horus, etc., they indicated some solar, lunar, or stellar 
fact. Their twelfth day after Christmas, says Mr, Sharpe, 
" marks the feast of Epiphany " ; still called by the old 
name, " Manifestation of Light." The Christmas solstice 
was then kept with reverence, and yet with merriment. 
The solstice, or apparent standing of the sun for three days, 
once passed, the 25 th of December saw the real birth of 
the new year's sun in the northern hemisphere. As Egypt 
was a hot land, and not dependent upon the rejoicing of 

B B 


o Eo-yptian Belief and Modern Thong/if. 

the new sun after the depth of winter, it is suspected that 
the Aryan colonists of the Nile had before kept up a real 
and necessary Christmas festival in more northern regions. 
The same argument applies to their keeping of Easter, 
the vernal equinox festival. 

Their observance of three days, Oct. 31st, Nov. ist and 
Nov. 2nd, being honoured as religious seasons, has been 
noted by Judge Haliburton. All Saints' Day, and All 
Souls' Day, he sees kept nearly all over the world from the 
remotest period, and fancies the custom was derived from a 
people in the southern hemisphere. Thousands of years 
before the Christian era, the Egyptians kept Lent and the 
forty days' fast. It was the time of mourning for Osiris. 
Lent was, also, maintained in old Babylon, with the usual 
abstinence from meat. The Spaniards were surprised to 
see the Mexicans keep the vernal forty days' fast. The 
Tammuz month of Syria was in the spring. The forty 
days were kept for Proserpine. Thus does history repeat 
itself. The work of the Free Church Minister, the Rev. 
A. Hislop, in a comparison of Babylon and Rome, fur- 
nishes other most interesting parallels in church festivals. 

The great day of Egypt was the 19th of the first month, 
dedicated to Thoth, when folks partook of honey and eggs. 
On the earliest of tombs we find references to this date. It 
was connected with the appearance of Sirius, the dog-star. 
"This Sothic festival was attended with religious games, as 
in other parts of the world. On the 14th day of the moon 
after the equinox, boughs were placed before the door, and 
flowers strewn about, while a decorated ram was led along 
the streets. 

Candlemas was kept with many lights at Sais, in honour 
of Neith, the firmament or dark space that gave birth to 
all. Herodotus speaks of the lamps. They were but 
saucers filled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt. The writer 

Temple Worship. 371 

saw in the Cave of Elephanta similar saucers left by 
Hindoo devotees. The great feast of Isis was at Bubastis, 
in the Delta, when much license was permitted, or taken, 
though professedly a season of mourning for the lost Osiris. 
An ox was filled with honey, flour, figs, and incense ; this 
was burnt on a fire fed with oil. It was the ancestor of 
our welcome but indigestible mince pies. 

In pious observances, the attitude of the worshipper 
varied. He stood with arms outstretched, he knelt, he 
squatted and bowed, he clasped the knees of the image be- 
fore which he prayed, he kissed his hand to it, he presented 
the palms of his hands, or prostrated himself before it. He 
had, of course, his rosary, by which he numbered his sup- 
plications. The rosary is referred to in the Ritual. It was 
in use also in Babylon, in Mexico, in India, etc. He was 
duly sprinkled with holy water when entering the temple. 
His priest threw pastiles of incense for him into the long 
censers. He always faced the east in devotions. Specific 
ceremonies, however, difi'ered according to locality. He 
made frequent quotations from his Scriptures in the ser- 
vices. He bowed with especial awe before the gold em- 
broidered veil of the temple. Relics were displayed before 
him by his priest, and were duly kissed, and paid for. 

Of sacrifices nothing need be said in this place. 

Smile as we may at his superstition, we must acknow- 
ledge the sincerity of his homage, and honour the purity of 
his sentiment. Mere image worship, mere childish cere- 
mony, mere superstitious belief, would never hold together 
a national religion. There must be, and there was, the real 
gold as well as counterfeit metal. There was the recogni- 
tion of deity behind the image, and of something behind 
the symbol. He was really thankful for mercies, and peni- 
tent for faults. He appreciated holiness of life, and prayed 
for grace as well as for pardon. 

372 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thoicght, 

There is abundant evidence of piety beyond the temple 
bounds, and beside the domestic hearth. Family devotions, 
as well as personal petitions, are mentioned. A calendar 
was in wide circulation, that stood in lieu of a Prayer 
Manual, since it gave set prayers for every hour of the day 
and every hour of the night. 

The Assyrians, in like manner, understood heart worship, 
and had all the spiritual wants which men feel at pre- 
sent. Mr. W. St. Chad Boscawen gives translations of their 
prayers. God is entreated, as with the Egyptians, to par- 
don sinners, and remove the sin. Watch and pray was 
then the rule. In an ancient liturgy it was said : " Pray 
thou — before the couch, pray — before the rising of dawn, 
pray — at the rising of the sun, pray — by the side of the 
river, pray — to the gods of heaven, pray — on coming out 
and going in the city, pray — on going out or entering a 
house, pray — in the temple, pray — on the road, pray.''^ 

The Morals of the Egyptians may be estimated, to some 
extent, from the nature of their prayers and their confes- 
sions, elsewhere noted. These refer usually to the questions 
of truth, honesty, family affection, obedience, humility, and 
general benevolence. Citations from their Scriptures con- 
firm the high tone of moral feeling. " Be just, and hate 
transgression," says one text; " for he that loveth justice 
will be blessed.'^ 

Plutarch observes : " The religious rites and ceremonies 
of the Egyptians were never instituted on irrational 
grounds, or built on mere fable and superstition ; all being 
founded with a view to promote the morality and happiness 
of those whose duty it was to observe them." The Rev. 
Mr. Zincke says : " They knew that morality only could 
make and maintain a nation. This precisely and nothing 
else was the wisdom of Egypt. It was the greatest wisdom 
any nation has ever shown." 

Temple Worship, 373 

Deverla collects some of their maxims. " Do not keep 
bad company. Do not take counsel from a fool. Never 
ill-treat an inferior. Respect the aged. Never ill-treat a 
woman, as her strength is less than thine. Speak not 
against thy master. Save not life at the expense of others' 
lives. Make not sport of those dependent on thee. Stop 
not to hear the words of the angry. Pervert not the 
heart of thy comrade, if it be pure." 

Rouge admits, from the confessions of chapter 42 of the 
Ritual, that " one can thence establish that the bases of 
morals have been always the same with civilized nations." 
Chabas says : " With the Egyptians this virtue (filial 
love) was commended in the same manner as in the Deca- 
logue of Moses." He adds : '' None of the Christian virtues 
is there forgotten : piety, charity, gentleness, chastity, pro- 
tection of the weak, kind watching over the humble, de- 
ference to superiors, respect for property in its least details." 

Mr. Cooper, our Biblical scholar, writes : "The bitterest 
enemies of the Egyptian faith were never able, till the 
Roman period, to accuse it of an immoral tendency." He 
declares that " there is scarcely a sentence in the whole of 
the Egyptian mythological or sacred texts which might 
not be read alike in the school playground, the historian^s 
study, or the devotee's cell." To what other national re- 
cords can similar praise be given ? We cease to wonder 
at this Christian man's belief in their recognition of the 
principles of " negative and positive holiness." 


IT was the common notion at one time, and still largely 
prevails, that, though offerings were made by the 
Patriarchs, the Mosaic was the first organized system of 
'sacrifices, as well as of a priesthood. Explorations and 
researches have established the position that such insti- 
tutions existed many ages before the Hebrew legislator. 

The Patriarchs, who were Semites, made offerings in the 
capacity of heads of families, or chiefs of small tribes. This 
practice seems to have been thoroughly Semitic, and has 
been carried on to this day among the Arabs. It belonged 
essentially to the nomadic or wandering state of shepherds, 
and the priesthood system to the more settled town life. 
In Egypt, as in Assyria, Sidon, etc., priests presented the 
offerings. The early Aryans, on their first entrance into 
India, appear to have offered as individuals ; at least, to 
some extent. 

The first illustrations of Egyptian offerings are in con- 
nection with ancestor worship. The rites are noticed in 
the chapter on " Funeral Rites." They were, according 
to Brugsch, "celebrated in honour and in memory of the 
deceased." They were both animal and vegetable in 
character. Similar votive offerings are mentioned on 
Assyrian monuments. In ancient India, as recorded in 
the oldest Vedas, the soul of the departed was supposed 
to ascend with the smoke of the fire to heaven. The 
friends are then described as saying — 

" We living men, survivors, now return 
And leave the dead ; may our oblations please 
The gods and bring us blessings ; now we go 
To dance and jest, and hope for longer life." 

Sacrifices. 375 

But sacrifices to deities do not, so far as Egypt is con- 
cerned, appear so early, or so prominently, as those to the 
dead. And yet Herodotus understood them to be older 
than the Great Pyramid, B.C. 4000, since he says that 
Cheops, its builder, " overthrew their temples, and was the 
first to put a stop to the sacrifice." As we have no early 
images of the gods, though a very early mention of their 
names and doings, we could not expect to have the early 
representation of offerings to them. A sacred alphabet 
having been identified in the dynasty before the Great 
Pyramid one, there must have been priests then, and, as it 
may be fairly presumed, sacrifices as well. Having no 
immoral or degraded deities, like the Greeks and others, 
with a Saturn devouring his own children, the Egyptians 
are not amenable to the rebuke of Plutarch, when saying : 
** How much happier it would have been for the Cartha- 
ginians had their first lawgiver been like Critias or Diagoras, 
who believed neither gods nor demons, rather than such a 
one as enjoined their public sacrifices to Saturn." 

Macrobius wrote: "It was never permitted to the 
Egyptians to propitiate the gods with the slaughter of 
animals, nor with blood, but with prayers and incense 
alone." This is a remarkable statement from one who 
lived in idolatrous times. Yet Proclus tells us that '' the 
first people who sacrificed did not offer animals, but herbs, 
flowers, and trees, with the sweet scent of incense." What 
are the facts ? 

No one can look at the monuments of Egypt, especially 
on the very oldest funeral tablets, without seeing abundant 
proofs that animals were so offered. Along with flowers, 
fruits, onions, leeks, cakes, oil, wine, dresses, jewels, gold, 
vases, images, etc., we see geese, ducks, oxen, and other 
animal forms upon the altars. It is likely that Macrobius, 
who witnessed so much beast sacrifice among Greeks, 

37^ Egyptian Belief and Modern Thottght. 

should have been struck with the absence, or comparative 
absence, of such in Egypt. But the tendency in all long 
established religions is, perhaps, to diminish bloody 
sacrifices. The Chinese are an illustration of this growth 
of bloodless presentations. 

Race has, however, much to do with this question. Some 
peoples, as the Semitic Jews, Arabs, and Carthaginians, 
were much given to this shedding of blood. In Lower 
Egypt, where this class of population largely abounded, 
the bloody offerings, and even the sacrifices of men, pre- 
vailed more than in Upper Egypt. Much was made by 
Homer of the pleasure the gods took in the smell of the 
burnt offering. Even Moses refers to the Divine satisfaction 
in this savour. But the irreligious Lucian derided the idea. 
" Now the gods," says he, '* being assembled in the apart- 
ment of heaven's monarch, crouch, and look out sharp to 
see if they can perceive any signs of the rising of a sacrifice's 
fumes, that they may suck in the fat, and sip up the blood 
around the altars, like flies. Seeing otherwise they are 
reduced to their commons of nectar and ambrosia, which 
cannot be so excellent as the poets chant, since they 
leave them for blood and fat." 

Burnt offerings were in use in Egypt. A bullock's thigh 
was in frequent request. Red heifers, as with the Jews 
(Num. xix.), were often sacrificed for sin ; if one dark hair 
appeared, the animal was rejected by the priest. Yet the 
red colour was particularly sacred to Typhon the evil one. 
Poor people in Egypt were more favoured than in Judsea. 
Being unable to purchase a beast, they were permitted 
to make one, or the joint of one, out of paste, and then 
bake it for an offering. 

As Thebes worshipped the ram-god Ammon, goats served 
there for sheep in sacrifice. But, as the Mendes folks favoured 
a goat-god, they had to offer the sheep. The male lamb. 

Sacrifices. 2i77 

as with the Jews afterwards, was duly burnt on the 14th 
day of the moon near the spring equinox, answering to 
the Passover and Easter. The Egyptians had the scape- 
goat, on whose head the curse rested, and that was set 
loose, duly branded and sealed, into the neighbouring 
desert. Heads of animals were cast into the Nile, or sold 
to foreigners for food ; the Jews ate them. The blood 
was seven times sprinkled upon the altars. Pigs were 
sacrificed to the moon, and a part was piously eaten at 
the full moon. 

Human sacrifices, undoubtedly, were recognized in 
Egypt. A man, as the highest and noblest of animals, was 
esteemed the most worthy of presentation. With the 
Semitic race this was the practice. Abraham, surrounded 
by those who deemed the offering of a son the most holy 
of rites, and most pleasing to their deities, hesitated not 
at what he supposed a command from Jehovah. But, in 
Egypt, red men, either light-coloured or painted, were 
sacrificed to Typhon. At Heliopolis, whence our obelisk 
originally came, the practice did not cease till the reign of 
Amosis, who abolished it Red men were in like manner 
offered in Etruria. 

The sin offering of Egypt was a bullock. The peace 
offering was a sheep or goat. The meat offering was of 
flour, oil, and incense. There was, also, the thank offering. 
The wave offering was so called from being waved to and 
fro before the gods. " The wave offering of the Jews," 
says Cooper, " seems to have been borrowed from Egypt." 
The " Speaker's Commentary " says : *' The distinction of 
clean and unclean meats is essentially Levitical, but it is 
eminently Egyptian also." 

This striking parallel between Jewish and Egyptian rites 
is generally acknowledged. But, as the Rev. Mr. Sayce 
remarks, "The Assyrians have borrowed their theology 

37^ Egyptian Belief and Mode7'n TJwicght. 

from Accad ; such a borrowing, therefore, is possible in the 
case of the other Semitic peoples." When Father Boori 
went to China in the sixteenth century, he wrote in great 
astonishment, " There is not a dress, office, or ceremony in 
the Church of Rome to which the devil has not here pro- 
vided some counterpart." 

But the Tract Society's book on Egypt thinks it a 
mistake to suppose that Genesis gives us all that is known 
of early religion. The splendid lecture by the Rev. E. 
Jenkins, M.A., on this subject, before the Wesleyan Con- 
ference of 1877, at Bristol, takes the same line of argument, 
and admits the priority of other and true forms of religion, 
conmionly called heathenish, before the Mosaic. 


THE Egyptians were eminently a praying people. No 
one can say the same for either Greeks or Romans. 
As the home life was so superior to that of refined Athens 
or imperial Rome, so was the spirit of reverence for celestial 
powers. The influence of the creed of immortal life oper- 
ated in producing a greater respect for gods, and a desire 
to conciliate them, because they could aid souls passing 
through the probation after death. A happy passage 
through the perils and temptations of Amenti or Hades, 
so that the soul might reach Paradise in safety, was the 
ardent desire of the good Egyptian, and the motive above 
all for prayer. 

Among some peoples, as among some professing Christ- 
ians, prayers have a decidedly earthly and individual char- 
acter. They are supplications for health, peace, plenty, 
and the comfort of families. The higher the civilization, 
the more developed the personal being, so much higher 
will be the class of prayers, so much more developed the 
spiritual wants and entreaties. When a tribe, or members 
of any community, aspire to something beyond this life, 
the tone of prayer will be directed toward conditions ot 
existence other than mundane. Tested by these standards, 
the Egyptians will be found to have occupied a noble 
position in the very ancient times, and better than what 
they held in later days of association with other nations. 
The prayers of the Ptolemaic epoch could not be expected 
to be equal to those of the early Pharaonic one, as the 
morals of the country had undergone as much decadence 
as the arts and sciences. 

So Egyptian Belief and Modern TJiought. 

Without attempting any arrangement of Egyptian 
prayers, as we have them in tombs upon the steles of 
the mastaba, on statues of kings, or on the walls of temples, 
a selection will be thrown out for perusal. 

The great subject of request in the primitive time was 
for guidance through the halls of Hades, protection against 
the foes of the underworld, and a supply of heavenly food 
for the journey there. There is a naive confession of good- 
ness, after the Job type, doubtless sincere, and evidently 
meant to gain favour with gods who were, unlike Homeric 
divinities, the exemplars of virtue themselves, and re- 
warders of good actions. An entire confidence in the 
goodness and integrity of their deities is the most pleasing 
attribute of the Egyptian mind. No Greek could trust his 
lying, treacherous, unstable, and immoral gods. 

On a tomb of the eleventh dynasty, B.C. 3000, the 
deceased is made to say : " I have ever kept from sin, I 
have been truth itself on the earth. Make me luminous 
in the skies ! Make me justified ! May my soul prosper ! " 
Upon a papyrus we read this touching appeal : " My 
god ! my god ! O that thou wouldst show me the true 

Prayers for the crown of justification are common. One 
man exclaims, " Homage to you, O gods of Tozer, who 
live in truth each day. / come to your Another prays, 
" May god put truth in my heart ! " A friend addresses 
the god on behalf of the deceased : saying, " Receive 

this the truthful. He is united to thy laws. Open 

to him thy gates." Rougd quotes this : " May his soul 
fly toward the dwelling which it ought to approach, and 
be able to rejoin his body ! " 

On the tomb of the first prophet of Ammon is read this 
prayer : " O ye gods and goddesses of the sacred lower 
region, I am come among you. My heart possesses truth. 

Prayers. 381 

There is no Iniquity In it. I was worthy on earth. Grant 
that the gods be in my bosom, and in the place where I 
shall be in the sacred lower region." 

A prophet of Osiris says : " I have venerated my father, 
I have respected my mother, I have loved my brothers, I 
have done nothing evil against them during my life on 
earth. I have protected the poor against the powerful. 
I have given hospitality to every one. I have been bene- 
volent, and loving the gods. I have cherished my friends, 
and my hand has been open to him who had nothing. I 
have loved truth, and hated a lie." 

Among the prayers for the souls of the departed the 
following is one : " Approach thou to him. May he 
enter thy bosom every day! Give him strength to pass 
the gates of the inferior heaven ! Give him the life which 
was before thee ! the breath of the resurrection which is 
after thee, the entrance and the departure which are in 
thy power. He sees in thee. He lives in thee. It is in 
thee that he will never be annihilated." 

A prayer from their Scriptures,— the Ritual for the Dead, 

gives a part of the confession the soul must make after 

death. It recalls to mind the confession in the 25th 
chapter of Matthew. The 125th chapter of the Ritual 
contains this : — 

" Homage to thee, great god, lord of truth and justice ! 
I am come to thee, O my master. I present myself to 
thee, and contemplate thy perfecting. I know you, lord of 
truth and justice. I have brought you the truth. I have 
committed no fraud against men. I have not tormented 
the widow. I have not lied in the tribunal. I know not 
lies. I have not done any prohibited thing. I have not 
commanded my workman to do more than he could do. 
I have not been idle. I have not made others weep. I 
have not made fraudulent gains. I have not altered the 

382 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

grain measure. I have not falsified the equilibrium of the 
balance. I have not taken away the milk from the foster 
child. I have not driven sacred beasts from the pastures. 
I am pure. I am pure." 

No bad scheme of morals could be deduced from the 
above confession. Another person cries : "I am In- 
fluenced by my love. I have given bread to him who was 
hungry, water to the thirsty, garments to the naked, and 
a home to the forsaken ones." One under the eighteenth 
dynasty says : '' Place me among thy followers like the 
spirits who pass the gate ; living in truth daily, I am one 
of them. Hateful is sin. I have acted in truth when on 
earth, not turning away from it." 

A soul is represented saying, " Permit me to go into the 
way of darkness that I may join thy servants who are in 
the lower heavens, that I may enter and go forth into Ro- 
sia, into the great chamber of double justice." Another 
asks that the god may grant that he arrive at " the country 
of eternity." Many prayers are for purification and light. 
One prays: "Bring forth my righteousness — search out 
my sins." A friend lovingly prays, '' Leave him (deceased) 
not alone." Another tells the god, " Thou hast made my 
existence in perpetuity, my reign in eternity." 

The water of life is often the subject of Egyptian prayer. 
A monument has a sort of dialogue between the water 
and the deceased. He exclaims : " O water ! father of 
the gods ! turn thy face toward me. Thou art the water 
which makes eternally young again." To this appeal the 
water replies, " I am Atoum (sunset) : I am the preferred 
of the sun. I am the blessed Ibis. I am the Water." 

Maspero is the authority for the following: "A great 
functionary, contemporary of the kings of the fifth dynasty, 
said thus : " Having seen all things, I have left this place 
(earth) where I have told the truth, where I have done 

Prayers. '^'^-i^ 

right. Be good for me, you who will come after, render 
witness to your ancestor — O Lord of Heaven, powerful, 
universal master ! I am (the one) who passes in peace, 
practising submission, loving his father, loving his mother, 
devoted to whoever was with him, the joy of his brothers, 
the love of his servants, who has never rejected complaint." 

Mariette Bey gives some fine specimens of supplication. 
Thus : " I come to thee, great god, O Osiris, who dwellest 
in the West. I am delighted to contemplate thy beauty. 
My arms are stretched out to adore thy majesty. Accord 
splendour, power, justification, breathe the delicious 
breath of air, and to be manifested in Kerneter (Hades) 
in all the transformations that I love." Another one prays : 
'* I ask thy majesty, in my faith, that thou mayst shine 
on my body, that thou enlighten my sepulchre. Give 
perfection to my substance, near thy substance. Open to 
me the doors of the dwelling of thy inferior heaven, that 
I may go out, that I may approach, that my heart may be 
pleased, that I may stay in the place that pleases me." 

It was a comfort for the departed to feel the presence of 
the dear goddesses Isis and her sister Nephthys, so faithful 
to the dead. A tablet represents these speaking to the 
human soul : " I, Nephthys, thy sister, I am near thee. I 
place my arms about thee to give thee a serene and lasting 
life. Isis, thy sister, she brings to thee the breath of happi- 
ness in her nostrils." 

Anubis was, perhaps, the earliest to whom prayers were 
addressed ; or, rather, whose addressed supplications have 
been preserved. One prayer is engraved in large, deep 
hieroglyphics over the door of a very ancient tomb, and has 
been thus rendered : " To Anubis, he who is the divine 
door. Let a sepulchre be given him (the deceased) in 
Amenti, the west country, the ancient, the good and great, 
to him who is devoted to the great god. May funeral 

384 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

offerings be made at the beginning of the year, at the feast 
of Thoth, at New Year's Day, at the feast of navigation, 
at the feast of heat, at the appearances of the god Khem, 
at the feast of the holocaust, at the fetes of the months, and 
half months, and every day." 

In the mastaba of tombs there is, sometimes, besides 
the prayer, an address to the dead, or by the dead to the 
living. One of the oldest is supposed to be spoken by 
Antef of Thinnis, the ancient capital. From his stele the 
copy was obtained : — 

'' O you who live on earth, men, priests, scribes, singers, 
who enter into this funeral building ; you who love life 
and repel death, who praise the gods of the country, and 
have not tasted the food of the other world ; when you 
repose in your tombs, may you be able to transmit your 
dignities to your children ! In reciting the words given 
upon this stele, as it suits a scribe, or in hearing them, 
say thus : Adoration to Ammon, Lord of the thrones of 
the World, in order that he may grant funeral gifts," etc. 

Three women have their names inscribed upon a tomb- 
stone and make their address to visitors of their tomb. 
" O you," say they, " who live upon earth, and will come 
after us during thousands of years ! May you be favoured 
by the gods of your country, pass your lives in happiness, 
and peacefully repose in your tombs!" After these good 
wishes, the trio earnestly entreat of such visitors prayers 
to Ptah, etc., on their behalf A prophet of Osiris asks for 
the benefit of his friend's supplications ; saying, " Make 
for him your prayers, you who love Osiris, the eternal king, 
and say thus : * May the delicious wind in the north (that 
is, spiritual blessings) be in the face of the first prophet of 
Osiris, Neb-oua, the proclaimed just one near Osiris.' " 

The dead are themselves addressed on some steles. 
Thus : " May the children of thy children remain near 



thee, and eternity never fail thee !" Another says : " May 
Ra give thee h'ght, and may his rays be absorbed by thine 
eye ! May the god Seb give thee all that which fructifies 
in him in order that thou mayest live ! May the god 
Osiris give thee the Nile (water of life) that thou mayst 
live, and be young again !" 

Professional prayers were liberally engaged. Then, as 
now, particular unction was supposed to rest upon the 
words uttered by priests. As the Holy Scriptures of 
Egypt give prayers for daily use, prayers at table, prayers 
in the field, prayers to be engraved on inkstands, prayers 
for all occasions of church and home, so do they give 
prayers for the dead, or Masses, after the fashion of some 
Christian communities. Money was then, as now, left for 
the payment of so many masses. Sir Gardner Wilkinson 
reminds us that such prayers for the dead were duly said 
'' so long as the family paid for their performance." 

The Rev. E. Jenkins writes : " There are many so-called 
Christian hymns which are inferior in sense, in music, and 
in piety, to the following Vedic Litany : ' Let me not 
yet, Varuna, enter into the house of clay ; have mercy. 
Almighty ! have mercy ! If I go along trembling, like a 
cloud driven by the wind, have mercy. Almighty ! have 
mercy ! Thirst came upon the worshipper, though he 
stood in the midst of waters ; have mercy, Almighty ! 
have mercy ! " 

C C 


WHAT did the ancient Egyptians know of the one, 
true, and living God ? 

In this article of faith, as in other dogmas, changes or 
developments have occurred. But v\4ien we discover that 
the most ancient conception of immortality was the sim- 
plest and clearest, it would not surprise us to learn the 
same of the Unity of the Godhead. It may be granted, 
upon ample evidence, that originally the Nilemen had a 
view of independent Deity, which gradually assumed a 
pantheistic character, or was resolved into blank and sterile 

The ancieilt Rig Veda says, "They praised the pure God 
with an ancient song." That sentence was doubtless written 
four thousand years ago ; and then the pure God was praised 
with an ancient hymn of praise. It is not wonderful, there- 
fore, to find Egyptians so praising, in the midst of symbol- 
ism, some two thousand years before the Indian Vedas ; 
and then, it may be, with an ancient song. 

The Egyptians would appear to have held the old Aryan 
idea, so beautifully described in the Rig Veda: "Originally 
this universe was indeed Soul only." That soul was the 
Divinity that formed gods and men. The gods were the 
emanations, or outward manifestations of abstract Deity. 
Even the Greeks, coarse as they were in their mythology, 
compared with others, had an un-imaged, un-worshipped 
Zeus, the One, the Only. But, as the Vedas say, " That 
which is One the wise call it in divers manners": and 

Unity of Gad, 387 

" Wise men make the beautiful-winged, though he Is one, 
manifold by words." 

Baldwin in his " Prehistoric Nations," lays it down that 
" Mythology implies Monotheism, and cannot be intelli- 
gently explained without it." Allan Kardec, as a spirit- 
ualist, writes thus : '* The word god among the ancients 
had a wider range of meaning. It did not, as in our day, 
represent the Master of Nature, but was a generic term 
applied to all beings who appeared to stand outside the 
pale of ordinary humanity. They called them gods just as 
we call them spirits^ This assumption, however, is by no 
means proved by Egyptian mythology. The gods melt as 
it were into each other, and indicate a relation to the de- 
velopment of Unity. 

The author of " The Great Dionysiak Myth," truly re- 
marks : " Ilu, II, El, Allah, Amen, Yahveh, Jao, Dyaus, 
Deus, Theus, Zeus, Jehovah, Jove or Lord are all in reality 
identical, and names for the Monad and First Cause." He 
might add Elga, the lofty god, and Hadad the Phoenician 
Only One. 

Osburn's "Monumental Egypt" makes the gods of Egypt 
merely dead men; and religion, simply hero-worship. This 
notion is completely negatived by the facts of history. 

F. Lenormant talks of " the adoration of entire nature 
under a form more or less one or complex." Others more 
distinctly charge Egypt with pantheism. Kenrick says: 
''The Egyptian mythology had its origin in the personifica- 
tion of the powers of nature." Hardwicke, the Cambridge 
Christian Advocate, assumes that ''Nature thus became 
the highest god of the Egyptian priesthood ; while the 
people brought their offerings to some one or other of the 
manifold powers of nature." Chabas calls it a pantheism ; 
and so does Sir Gardner Wilkinson. *' 

This charge is true, though applicable only to a later 


88 Egyptian Belief and Modern TJiought. 

period of Egyptian history. Associated in those times with 
sceptical Greeks, the faith of Egypt grew in mysticism and 
pantheism under the Spinosas of the day. Chabas read a 
stele of one Baka, holding this philosophic notion ; and 
remarks, " in our days he would have passed in France for 
Voltairean." But Mariette Bey tells the plain story thus : 
" For the Egyptian monotheism, so frankly avowed by 
Jamblichus, we ought to substitute, at least for Denderah 
and the epoch of the Lagides (Ptolemies), a sort of panthe- 
ism which would have as a base the adoration of the eternal 
forces of nature." Hecataeus wrote, ''They take the First 
God and the Universe for one and the same thing." 

Let us now turn to authorities declaring in favour of the 
conception of Unity of Godhead. 

Jamblichus says : " The Egyptians acknowledge before 
the heaven and in the heaven, a living Power ; and, again, 
they place a pure mind or intellect above the world." 
" Egypt believed in an only God." *' A god seated upon a 
lotus designs the great god, the infinite power, the supreme 
eminence, who never touches matter." He held that, ac- 
cording to Hermes, matter was produced by God. " The 
Egyptian god," he tells us, " when he is considered as that 
hidden force, which leads things to the light, is called 
Amnion ; when he is the intelligent spirit, which resumes 
all intelligences, he is EmcriJi ; when he is he who accom- 
plishes all things with art and truth, he is called Ptah ; 
and, lastly, when he is the good and beneficent god, he is 
called Osirisr 

Asclepiades wrote : '' The Egyptian philosophers of later 
days have declared the hidden truth of their theology, 
having found in some Egyptian monuments that, according 
to them, there is one principle of all things, celebrated 
under the name of the tink)wwn darkness, and this thrice 
repeated." But this was in the pantheistic period. Yet 

Unity of God, 389 

Suldas makes Asclepiades affirm their worship of " one 
supreme and universal Numen, Reason, and Providence, 
governing all things." This is also stated by Damascius. 
Proclus boldly declared : " The tradition of the Egyptians 
agrees in this, that matter was not unmade or self-exist- 
ent, but produced by the Deity." Horus Apollo wrote 
as follows : " The Egyptians by God meant a spirit diffu- 
sing itself through the world, and intimately pervading all 

Dr. Cudworth, the philosophical theologian of the Com- 
monwealth days, sums up quotations from classical and 
other writers with this expression of opinion : " That they 
did nevertheless acknowledge one supreme and universal 
Numen may first be probably collected from that fame, 
which they had anciently over the world, for their wisdom." 
He thought them too wise to be atheists or absolute poly- 
theists. Cory, another master of ancient learning, said : 
"The higher we ascend the more the numbers (of the gods) 
diminish ; and upon the oldest monuments the most fre- 
quent delineation is that of Amoun Ra alone." 

The Rev. C. W. Goodwin, M.A., to whose translations 
we are much indebted, discreetly warns us against accepting 
the philosophical, and too often pantheistic, opinions of 
the classical writers. " The recognition," he observes, " of 
one sole creator and governor of the earth and all its 
inhabitants is, we shall find, quite familiar to the Egyp- 
tians, whose religious views were little comprehended by 
the Greek and Roman writers, who until recently were our 
principal authorities." Pierret remarks : '' That which is 
without doubt, and which shines forth from the texts for 
the whole world's acceptance, is the belief in one God." 
The religion was, according to F. Lenormant, " originally 
based on a distinct acknowledgment of the divine unity." 

The Hermetic writings of Egypt may throw some light. 

390 Egyptian Belief and Modei^n TJionght. 

The difficulty has been concerning their authenticity. But 
as, because there was myth in all early history, we do 
unwisely to cast aside all ancient records ; so, though some 
books attributed to Hermes, or Thoth, may be even 
spurious, or more or less subject to interpolations by weak- 
minded, but well-meaning, primitive Christian writers, the 
main teaching of those ancient books may be cautiously 
received. They are more or less touched up by the Pla- 
tonic philosophers among the early Christians, who sought 
to substantiate their Christian arguments by appeals to 
these heathen and revered writings, though they could not 
resist the temptation of making them say a little too much. 

Thoth or Hermes was the God of Wisdom. By some 
he has been identified with Seth, the supposed author of 
ancient learning. Lactantius, the Christian Father, says : 
*' Thoth has written a great number of books, in which he 
proclaims the majesty of a sovereign and only God, whom 
he styles as our Dens and Pater!' The early Christians 
undoubtedly recognized the good teaching of these books. 
Cyprian declares: " Hermes Trismegist, also, acknowledges 
one God, confessing him to be ineffable and inestimable." 
Augustine cites several passages from Hermes. 

From Apuleius, who made an ancient translation, we 
have this Hermetic dogma : " I cannot hope sufficiently to 
express the author of Majesty, and the Father and Lord of 
all things, by any one name, though compounded of never 
so many names. Call him, therefore, by every name, for- 
asmuch as he is one and all things ; so that of necessity, 
either all things must be called by his name, or he by the 
names of all things." This, of course, is pantheism ; some 
will add, that it comes through the pantheistic Apuleius. 

Cyril quotes this passage : " The world has a governor set 
over it, that Word o( the Lord of all which was the maker 
of it : this is the first person after Himself, uncreated, infi- 

Unity of God. 39 1 

nite, looking out from him, and ruling over all things that 
were made" by him." Here, along with the Egyptian 
belief" in the Logos, is the recognition of the one God. 
Justin Martyr writes : "Hermes plainly declares that it is 
hard to conceive God, but impossible to express him." 
Cyril, who names fifteen books translated into Greek, cites 
this sentence : '' For this very reason did He make all 
things, that thou mayst see him through all things." 

Some other passages may be quoted : *' The Divinity is 
the whole mundane constitution ; for nature is also placed 
in the deity.— For there is nothing in the whole world 
which He is not— The things that are not He contains 
within himself.— He is both uncorporeal and omnicorporeal. 
—He has no name, because He is- Father of all things.— 
What is God, but the very being of all things ?— God alone 
in himself, and for him.self, and about himself, is altogether 
perfect ; and himself is his own stability.— The glory of 
all things is God, and duty, and divine matter." 

Undoubtedly, what is commonly called pantheism peeps 
out. But all explanations of deity are allowed to be liable 
to the charge of anthropomorphism on the one side, and 
pantheism on the other. Paul quoted, with apparent 
approval, a pantheistic saying : " In Him we live, and move 
and have our bcvugr Cudworth attempts a sort of apology ; 
saying, ''According to the ancient Egyptian theology, from 
whence the Greekish and European were derived, there was 
one intellectual Deity, one Mind or Wisdom, which, as it 
did produce all things from itsef so doth contain and 
comprehend the whole." He upholds the Unity idea of 
Egypt, saying :— 

'' Now by all this we see how well these Trismegistic 
books agree with that ancient Egyptian inscription in the 
temple of Sais, that God was ' all that was, is, and shall 
be.' Wherefore the Egyptian theology thus undoubtedly 

392 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thottght. 

asserting one God that was all things, it is altogether im- 
possible that it should acknowledge a multitude of self- 
existent and independent deities." 

Let us now turn from the traditional idea of Egyptian 
belief to the further citation of opinion from Egyptologists 
in these modern times, able to read hieroglyphical writing, 
and give the exact words employed by the people, what- 
ever the symbolic meaning intended to be conveyed. 

Champollion affirmed his conviction that the Egyptians 
did recognise one independent and absolute Deity. Mr. 
Cooper sees in Ra " an all-pervading but yet invisible 
essence." In that respect, like the Ahuramazda of the 
Zendavesta, he is fire and spirit. But that writer adds : 
''The votive steles and hymns to Anubis, Horus, Isis, 
Osiris, and Amen, which exist in abundance, prove that to 
the bulk of the people the state creed (Unity) was a mys- 
tery, and the national religion was a polytheism." M. C. 
Lenormant notes their view of a " Divinity who resides in 
the entire world, and who, in his diverse emanations, takes 
a thousand forms and a thousand different names." Chabas 
speaks of " innumerable divinities who represent particular 
modes, forms, and wills of the universal being, the pivot of 
the whole." Rouge declares : " It would be very mexact 
to think that this multitude of adored divinities had com- 
pletely obliterated amomg them the notion of a supreme 
and only God." 

The hieroglyphic texts bring a precious light upon this 
question. The supreme God, whatever may be the local 
name applied to him, is often designated by expressions 
which permit no doubt on that account. He is " The only 
being living In truth," say the sacred legends. Deveria, 
translating a prayer, says : " One remarks, in the invoca- 
tion which precedes this last prayer, the idea of absolute 
monotheism, rendered by powerful expressions ; and, by 

Unity of God, 393 

the side of that, the image of symbolic polytheism, which 
represents the personification of the multiple attributes of 
divinity. This only God, without form, and without sex, 
who gives birth to himself without fecundation, is again 
adored under the form of a virgin mother." This alludes 
to the sentence : " Beautiful virgin in the abyss, whose son 
(the sun) prospers in the mountain." But he is satisfied 
about "the primordial being, the only unity, creator of that 
which exists, holy soul of gods and men." 

Maspero, in 1876, wrote thus : " This God of the Egyp- 
tians was unique, perfect, endowed with knowledge and 
intelligence, and so far incomprehensible that no one can 
say in what respect he is incomprehensible. He is the one 
who exists by essence ; the one sole life of all substance. 
He is felt everywhere ; he is tangible nowhere." The author 
of "Divinites Egyptiennes" reads on a proclamation : "The 
supreme Being, light of the world, vital principle of divine 

Grebai£t has these important observations on the Egyp- 
tian Godhead : " This Being, who, in himself, one and 
immutable, but also mysterious and inaccessible to the 
intelligence, has neither form nor name, reveals himself 
by his acts, manifests himself in his parts." Again : '' The 
God who has no form and whose name is a mystery (these 
are the Egyptian expressions) is an acting God. Whatever 
the manifestation under which he recognizes it, the believer 
always proclaims it the soul of all the gods, the only God 
who has no second, and attributes to it all the divine per- 

Mariette Bey, an accurate observer, has given his views. 
" On the summit of the Egyptian Pantheon," says he, 
** hovers a sole God, immortal, uncreate, invisible, and 
hidden in the inaccessible depths of his own essence. He 
is the creator of heaven and earth; he made all that 

394 Egyptian Belief and Alodern Thought. 

exists, and nothing is made without hint. This is the God 
the knowledge of whon^ was reserved for the initiated in the 
sanctuaries. But the Egyptian mind could not, or would 
not, remain at this sublime altitude. It considered the 
world, its formation, the principles which govern it, man 
and his earthly destiny, as an immense drama in which the 
One Being is the only actor. All proceeds from him, and 
all returns to him." 

Wilkinson is constrained to admit the Unity idea ; 
though, as he very cautiously adds, ^* whether the Egyp- 
tians arrived at this conclusion from mere tradition, or from 
the conviction resulting from a careful consideration of the 
question, I will not pretend to decide." The absence of 
the name of this One on the Egyptian monuments is not 
surprising ; as, says he, " it is not improbable that his 
name, as with the Jews, was regarded with such profound 
respect as never to be uttered." This was the case with 
several nations. 

The Secretary to the Society of Biblical Archaeology, in 
his admirable essay on Ra, the sun-god, was conscious of 
the anthropomorphic tendencies of Egyptian conceptions, 
and other difficulties. But he has these thoughtful words : 
" These apparent inconsistencies are, after all, no greater 
than those which arise from the utter im.possibility of a 
human mind grasping the infinite personality, and as natu- 
rally evidence themselves, even in our own times, as is 
proved by comparing the vague conception of the Supreme 
Being as formulated in the Eirst Article of the Church of 
England, with the almost human deity of the hymn-writers 
of popular or revival theology." Assuredly, some passages 
from the latter, as sung in our Christian Churches, are as 
fieshly as any in the Egyptian Scriptures, and more irre- 
verent. Mr. Cooper properly suggests that, of Ra, " the idea 

Unity of God. 395 

merciful dispensation, yet his form and likeness are wholly 
unknown, is worthy of an Old Testament prophet or a New 
Testament ^aint." 

The Egyptian name for God, Nuk Pu Nitk, or " I am 
that I am," recalls to remembrance the Mosaic narrative 
in a remarkable manner. The hieroglyphic for Creator is 
striking ; it is that of a man building a wall. In the very 
days of the Great Pyramid we have the statement of a 
person being " the priest of the great God." Though, there 
are continual references to Trinities on monuments, it is al- 
ways supposed that the three are one. No one can read the 
prayers of the Egyptians without coming to a conclusion 
upon the Unity of God. The secret name of the God was 
earnestly sought for in prayer. On an ancient image of a 
priest, the Deity is styled " Divine Father." The more 
pious of Egypt realized in God the sentiment expressed by 
Lucan : " He makes his particular abode in the souls of 
the just ; why then should we seek him elsewhere ? " 

Passages also described in this work will abundantly 
prove th_£ Ritual, or Scriptures, clear on the point. It is 
affecting to hear God called "the only being living in 
truth." Chapter 17 says, " He creates his own members, 
which are gods"; also, "One only, he who exists by 
essence, the only one who lives in substance, the sole 
generator in heaven and upon earth who cannot be 
engendered, the father of fathers, the mother of mothers." 
It was a solemn declaration on the tomb of an Egyptian, 
worthy the cry of a pious Israelite,— " The Lord is God,, 
there is but one God for me." 


THOUGH it Is usual to speak of the Semitic tribes as 
monotheistic, yet it is an undoubted fact that more or 
less all over the world the deities are in triads. This rule 
applies to eastern and western hemispheres, to north and 
south. Further, it is observed that, in some mystical way, 
the triad of three persons is one. The first is as the 
second or third, the second as first or third, the third as 
first or second ; in fact, they are each other, one and the 
same individual being. The definition of Athanasius, who 
lived in Egypt, applies to the trinities of all heathen 

Egypt is no exception ; only, strange enough, as 
Lenormant observes, *' no two cities worshipped the same 
triad." The one remarkable feature in nearly all these 
triads is that they are father, mother, and son .; that is, 
male and female principles of nature, with their product. 
Mariette Bey has several remarks upon this curious 
subject : — 

" According to places, the attributes by which the Divine 
Personage is surrounded are modified ; but in each temple 
the triad would appear as a symbol destined to affirm the 
eternity of being. In all triads, the principal god gives 
birth to himself. Considered as a Father, he r^emains the 
great god adored in temples. Considered as a Son, he 
becomes, by a sort of doubling, the third person of the 
triad. But the Father and the Son are not less the one 
god, while being double. The first is the eternal god ; the 
second is but the living symbol destined to .affirm the 

The Trinity. 397 

eternity of the other. The father engenders himself in 
the womb of the mother, and thus becomes at once his own 
father and his own son. Thereby are expressed the un- 
createdness and the eternity of the being who has had no 
beginning, and who shall have no end." 

The Tract Society's work on Egypt, remarking the 
clearly defined Trinity idea of the ancient Egyptians, and 
yet the silence or obscurity of the Hebrew Scriptures upon 
it, has the following explanation : " It does not appear 
probable that men, to whom the doctrine of tri-unity of 
God was unknown, could have framed such a system as 
this ; their purpose appears to have been to hide that 
truth, so that it should not be lost, but yet to conceal it 
from the many." 

The conceptions of this Trinity must have varied through 
the thousands of years of Egyptian belief, as they have 
among Christians themselves. At first, as far as may be 
seen, there was less mysticism than grew round the idea 
afterwards. Even " in ancient Osirianism," as Stuart- 
Glennie writes, *'the Godhead is conceived as a Trinity; 
yet are the three gods declared to be only one god." In 
Smith's " History of the East," it is> stated, '' In all these 
triads, the Son is another impersonation of the attributes 
of the Father." 

It must not be imagined that the mass of the people 
understood the mystery of the tri-unity of the Godhead, 
any more than the ruder class of Christian populations do 
now. A traveller tells the story of some Spaniard laugh- 
ing at an uncouth idol found in the ruins of Central 
America, when a Mexican civilly but apologetically ex- 
claimed, " It is true we have three very good Spanish gods, 
but we might have been allowed to keep a few of those of 
our ancestors." 

Among the Egyptian triads, the following may be 

398 Egyptian Belkf and Modejni Thought. 

mentioned ; Osiris, Isis and Horus, in ORe form or other, 
universal in the land ; Amoun, mother Maut, and son 
Chons, of Thebes ; Noum, Sate, and Anucis, or Anouke, 
of Ethiopia ; Month-ra, Reto, and Harphre of Hermonthis ; 
Seb, Netphe or Nout, and Osiris, of Lower Egypt ; Osiris, 
Isis and Anhur of Thinnis ; Ptah, Pasht and Month, of 
Memphis ; Neph, Neboo, and Hake, of Esne .; Seb, Netpe 
and Mandooli, of Dabad ; Savak, Athor, and Khonso, of 
Ambos ; Horket, Hathor, and Horsenedto, of Edfou. 
Among others may be included, Ptah, Sekhet and Nefer- 
atom ; Aroeris, Tsontnofre, and Pnebto ; Sokaris, Nephthys 
and Thoth, etc. The Tract Society's book judiciously men- 
tions that the triad of Amoun-Ra, Maut and Chons has 
many intermediate triads till it reaches the incarnate triad 
of Osiris, Isis and Horus. But that work admits the fact 
that three are blended into one. 

Mr. Samuel Sharpe, a prominent Egyptologist, observed 
an admirable representation of this tri-unity, more expres- 
sive than the shamrock of St. Patrick. He thus describes 
the picture of this Osirian deity ; " The horns upon his 
head are those of the goddess Athor, and the ball and 
feathers are the ornaments of the god Ra ; thus he is at 
once Osiris, Athor, and Ra." With reason, then, did he 
add : " The doctrine of Trinity in Unity already formed 
part of their religion,;" alluding to the high antiquity of 
this representation. 

But there are male trinities, and female ones. The 
existence of the latter excited the v/onder of the compiler 
of the Tract Society's book, and he thus records his 
thoughts : " A remarkable point which we notice, without 
presuming at all to trespass beyond the exact letter of 
that which is written. The female impersonation of Wis- 
dom in the Book of Proverbs, i. 9, is a remarkable cir- 
cumstance in this connection." 

The Trinity, 399 

The Greek writers, full of the old philosophy and Platonic 
Trinity, perhaps saw more than the Egyptians intended, 
or they mystified the notion. Damascius talks of Eicton, 
Emeph or Cneph, and Ptha, and that, "according to 
the Egyptians there is one principle of all things praised 
under the name of the Unknown Darkness, and this thrice 
repeated." Jamblichus notifies "Ammon the generator, 
Ptha the perfector, and Osiris the producer of good." One 
quotes an inscription : " One Bait, one Athor, and one 
Akori; Hail, Father of the world! Hail, triformous 
God ! " Proclus says, " The demiurgical number does not 
begin from a trinity, but from a monad." Plutarch recog- 
nizes their Trinity as a right-angled triangle ; of which 
Osiris is the perpendicular, Isis is the base or receptacle, 
and Horus is the hypothenuse. But they are all imbued 
with the Trinity idea of Plato,— Agathos, Logos, and 
Psyche ; the Father, the Word, and the Spirit. 

Jamblichus, who quotes from the Egyptian Hermetic 
Books, has the following definition of the Egyptian 
Trinity : — 

" Hermes places the god Emcph, as the prince and ruler 
over all the celestial gods, whom he afiirmeth to be a Mind 
understanding himself, and converting his cogitations or 
intellections into himself. Before which Emeph he placeth 
one indivisible, whom he calleth Eicton, in which is the 
first intelligible, and which is worshipped only by silence. 
After which two, Eicion and Emeph, the demiurgic mind 
and president of truth, as with wisdom it proceedeth to 
generations, and bringeth forth the hidden powers of the 
occult reasons with light, is called in the Egyptian lan- 
guage Aimnon ; as it artificially afi'ects all things with 
truth, PJiiJia ; as it is productive of good, Osiris ; besides 
other names that it hath according to its other powers and 

400 Egyptia7i Belief and Mode7'n TJioijight, 

The Rev. Dr. Cudworth, whose translation is given 
above, adds this comment : — 

" How well these three divine hypostases of the Egyp- 
tians agree with the Pythagoric or Platonic Trinity of, — 
first, Unity and Goodness itself, secondly, Mind, and 
thirdly, Soul,— I need not here declare. Only we shall 
call to mind what hath been already intimated, that Rea- 
son or Wisdom, which was the Demiurgus of the world, 
and is properly the second of the fore-mentioned hypo- 
stases, was called,, also, among the Egyptians by another 
name, CnepJi ; from whom was said to have been produced 
or begotten the god PhtJia, the third hypostasis of the 
Egyptian Trinity ; so tliat Cneph and Emeph are all one. 
Wherefore, we have here plainly an Egyptian Trinity of 
divine hypostases subordinate, Eicton, Emeph or Cneph, 
and Phtha." 

Other interpretations have been named. Phallic advo- 
cates, as Payne Knight, have contended that the male 
symbol of generation in divine creation was three in one, 
as the cross, etc., and that the female symbol was always 
re"-arded as the Triangle, the accepted symbol of the 
Trinity. " The number threes' says he, " was employed with 
mystic solemnity,, and in the emblematical hands above 
alluded to, which seem to have been borne on the top of a 
staff or sceptre in the Isiac processions, the thumb and two 
forefingers are held up to signify the three primary and 
general personifications." This form of priestly blessing, 
thumb and two fingers, is still acknowledged as a sign of 
the Trinity. 

The popular Trinity of Egypt, — Osiris, Isis, and Horus, 
— must have made a profound impression, when we find 
Babylonian Jews endorsing it in the Talmud, and early 
Christian sects adopting it. Not content with generally 
speaking of the Holy Spirit as feminine, some, as the Mel- 

The Trinity, 401 

chites at the Council of Nice, put the Virgin Mary in the 
place of Isis, and established the Trinity, as of old, Father, 
Mother, and Son. It is a popular Protestant error to sup- 
pose that the thought of this exaltation of Mary was a 
modern one. 

The Phoenicians, or old Canaanites, had one grand 
Trinity : *' Baal Hammon, male ; Tanith-Pen-Baal, female ; 
and lolaus or Eloim. Dunbar I. Heath goes so far as to 
say of the ancient time, " Every Semitic town of weight 
sufficient to erect its own temple appears to have had its 
3wn name for its Trinity." Another Trinity was of Baal, 
Ashtaroth, and Asherah. The Gnostic triad was Bythos, 
Ennoia and Pneuma. 

The Assyrians had several triads. In the most ancient, 
that of the Accadian, one member is called Salman, the 
Saviour. The leading triad was Ana or Anu ; Bil, Bel or 
Belus ; and Hea or Hoa. There was another of Sin or 
Hurki; Shamas, San, or Sansi; and Iva. The great female 
triad consisted of Anat or Anaites; BiUt, Beltis, or Mylitta, 
and Daokina. Another was of The Great Lady ; Gula or 
Anuit ; and Shala or Tala. 

In Babylon the prominent triad was of Anu Sin, Shamaz, 
and Iva. Shamas was the sun, as Sin was the moon ; the 
Chaldeans put the moon before the sun. 

D D 


SOME persons are prepared to admit that the most 
astonishing development of the old religion of Egypt 
was in relation to the Logos, or Divine Word, by whom all 
things were made, and who, though from God, was God. 
It had long been known that Plato, Aristotle, and others 
before the Christian era, cherished the idea of this Demiur- 
gus ; but it was not known till of late that Chaldeans and 
Egyptians recognized this mysterious principle. 

Bishop Marsh has these observations : " Since St. John 
has adopted several other terms which are used by the 
Gnostics, we must conclude that he derived also the term 
Logos from the same source. If it be further asked, 
whence did the Gnostics derive the use of the expression 
Word ? I answer, that they derived it most probably from 
the oriental or Zoroastrian philosophy." 

Professor Piazzi Smyth and followers, who see so many 
revelations of an evangelistic nature in the pyramid, may 
be expected to believe that the very ancient Egyptians knew 
more about the coming Saviour than Isaiah ever dreamed 
of. They must have known the exact year in which he 
would appear, the years he would live, the length of his 
ministry, the piercing of his side, his resurrection and 
ascension. As the author of 'Thilitis " observed : " Unless 
the Great Pyramid can be shown to be Messianic, as well 
as fraught with superhuman science and design, its sacred 
claim is a thing with no blood in it." If the builders thereof 
adjusted lengths and forms to masonify these remarkable 
prophetic facts, they may well be credited by gentlemen of 

Messiah and Logos Worship. 403 

this particular school of thought with a full and entire 
conception of the whole Christian dispensation. 

It Is startling at first to realize that supposed Christian 
dogmas are not novelties. Professor Smyth may even 
be thought, by very orthodox people, to have laid his axe 
at the very root of their old belief, and disabused them 
of fond imaginings. Once granting that men In the 
days of the pyramids knew more of evangelic truth, and 
received higher and clearer inspirational teaching, than 
the Old Testament saints and prophets, the Bible, as 
the source of religious light, may seem to lower its flag 
to the stony pyramid. Yet he is not alone In his Mes- 
sianic dreams. Egyptologists come to his rescue with 
their hieroglyphics, and affirm that the current belief of 
Egypt, not the secret locked up in the pyramid, was that 
the Logos was a reality. 

There are two ways of looking at this singular circum- 
stance. One writer exclaims : '* Strange that the ancient 
heathen knew so much more clearly those essential truths 
than did the saints themselves, and that Pagan Scriptures 
had more light upon the Incarnation, the Trinity, the 
Atonement, the Resurrection, than the Jewish Scriptures 
In the words of Moses, David, and the prophets." 

The Tract Society's " Egypt " looks at it from another 
side ; saying : " To be able to show to the gainsayer 
that the truth was partly holden in the fables of ancient 
heathenism, as well as revealed to the saints of old, Is 
surely well calculated to dissipate the doubts that are 
sometimes suggested respecting the periods at which God 
was pleased to impart the revelation of his will to mankind, 
and his mode of dealing with those who lived before his 
written word was Inspired." 

If the Egyptians were thus Inspired, there can be no 
possible difficulty remaining. 

404 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

The Logos or Word was a great mystery. From a 
stele in the Louvre, Maspero last year translated this 
curious passage : " I know the mystery of the Divine 
Word." We frequently meet in the Books of Hermes 
sentences like this : " The Word of the Lord of all which 
was the Maker of it." Thoth is sometimes called the 
Logos. Cyril quotes this from an old Egyptian work : 
" The Word — this is the first person after himself uncreated, 
infinite, ruling over all things that were made by him." 
If the reader will look through the chapter on " Gods and 
Goddesses," he will find a number of instances in which 
this Second One was produced from the First One, as Logos, 
and called forth for the avowed purpose of creating and 
governing all things. 

Lenormant, a most prudent Egyptologist, writes : " The 
doctrine of the Logos, being but an exterior manifestation of 
a pantheistic divinity, susceptible, following the point of view 
under which one considers it, of being regarded as a distinct 
Being, an engendered God, or being brought back to the 
unity of the First Principle, formally exists in the religion of 
Egypt." Maspero declares him " at once the Father, the 
Mother, and the Son of God. Engendered of God, born of 
God, without going forth from God, the three persons are 
God in God." It is the same that Jamblichus terms 
the Demiurgical Mind. The work called the " Book of 
God " assures us that " all the gods of heathenism resolve 
themselves into one image, that of the Messenger." 

The Assyrians had Marduk for their Logos. Boscawen 
translates one of their sacred addresses to him : *' Thou art 
the powerful one. — Thou art the life-giver. — Thou also the 
prosperer. — Merciful one among the gods. — Eldest son of 
Hea, who made heaven and earth. — Lord of heaven and 
earth, who an equal has not. — Merciful one, who dead to 
life raises." 

Messiah and Logos Worship, 405 

The Jews in Babylon heard much of this Logos, and 
had much to say of him in the Talmud. Philo the Jew 
speaks of " the most holy Logos, the image of the abso- 
lutely existing being." The learned Dr. DoUinger says : 
"The Logos of Philo is a second god, only improperly 
called god ; and Philo commends the Jews for not wor- 
shipping the representative Revealer, the Logos, but the 
Almighty God, who is exalted over all." Dollinger is 
careful to add that the Logos of St. John was a " perfect 
self-existent hypothesis." But the Logos was worshipped 
by the Egyptians, Chaldeans, Persians, etc., though not by 
the Jews. The Jewish Kabbala has this passage : " The 
soul of the Messiah, by his perseverance in the divine love, 
came to a strict union with the pure Godhead, and was 
deservedly advanced to be the king, the head, and the 
guide of all spirits." The old Te Deitm says " Thou sittest 
at the right hand of God." 

Mr. Gladstone notes the curious fact that the Logos is 
often expressed by the feminine gender. " We may possi- 
bly regard the use of the feminine gender in these tra- 
ditions," says he, "as having been either the most con- 
venient mode of impersonating an abstract idea of the 
wisdom of God, or as suggested by the arrangements of 
the Egyptian or other Eastern religions." We see else- 
where that the Egyptian Logos idea was distinctly herma- 

Lenormant brings out other sides of this Egyptian 
Logos. He speaks of the " love which the Divine Principle 
conceives for the first product of its will." He adds : 
" Thence the doctrine, almost universal, of the Word or 
Logos." Rouge conceives that the Egyptians '' knew the 
eternal generation of the Son of God." Unlike Dr. Adam 
Clarke, they believed in the Eternal Sonship. 

The author of the Tract Society's "Egypt" observes: 

4c6 Egyptian Belief ami Modern Thotight. 

" This most ancient theology, taught to the initiated and 
concealed from the vulgar, that God created all things at 
the first by the primary emanation from Himself, his 
first-born, who was the author and giver of all wisdom 
and of all knowledge in heaven and in earth, being at the 
same time the wisdom and the Word of God." Like Mr. 
Smyth, this author supposes an earlier revelation, not a 
written one ; '' the last " he says, " was written many years 
afterwards, primarily for the use of the children of 
Israel." (!) 

Kitto's '' Biblical Cyclopaedia" thus alludes to the Logos 
of the ancients : " This mysterious doctrine of emanation 
is at once the most universal and most memorable of 
traditions ; so universal, that traces of it may be found 
throughout the whole world ; so ancient, that its source is 
hidden in the grey mist of extreme antiquity." Augustine 
also says : " It is no error to believe that to some of the 
Gentiles the mystery of Christ was revealed." 

The Incarnation idea is well illustrated in Egyptian 
theology. It is not the vulgar, coarse, and sensual story 
as in Greek mythology, but refined, moral, and spiritual. 
Thus Ra was born from the side of his mother, the ethereal 
Nout, but was not engendered. The earth-born Osiris 
comes modestly before us, though evidently of divine 
origin. The Tract Society's work is justified in saying : 
** The great hope and end, therefore, which this superstition 
held forth to its votaries as the consummation of their 
religion was the birth of a God ; their expectation being 
evidently not metaphysical, but real, because they always 
identified it with actual occurrences." 

This expectation is put in another form by an author : 
" The birth of this great and all-powerful being, his manifes- 
tation as an infant, his nurture and education through the 
succeeding periods of childhood and of boyhood, constituted 

Messiah and Logos WorsJiip. 407 

the grand mystery of the entire system ; and, more aston- 
ishing than all, he also undergoes a succession of births 
through a descending series of emanations, harmonizing 
perfectly with the doctrine of metempsychosis, so well 
known to be peculiar to the Egyptian priesthood, conveying, 
by a metaphor not to be mistaken, their persuasion that 
this same august being would at some time become in- 
carnate, and be born upon earth as an infant." 

The Incarnation idea was found revealed on the wall of 
a Theban temple by Mr. Samuel Sharpe, who thus analyses 
this interesting picture : — 

" First, the god Thoth, with the head of an ibis, and with 
his ink and pen-case in his left hand, as the messenger of 
the gods, like the Mercury of the Greeks, tells the maiden 
queen Mautmes, that she is to give birth to a son who is to 
be king Amunothph III. Secondly, the god Kneph, the 
spirit, with a ram's head, and the goddess Hathor, with the 
sun and cow's horns upon her head, both take hold of the 
queen by her hands, and put into her mouth the charac- 
ter for life (a cross), which is to be the life of the coming 
child. Thirdly, the queen, when the child is to be born, is 
seated," etc. 

The Resurrection, not less than the death, of the 
Logos is illustrated in the history of Osiris. 

The Ascension is in like manner typified in the same 
story. The Tract Society's book, already mentioned, after 
showing that Thoth, one form of the Messiah, "taught 
mankind all the arts that distinguish men from the brutes 
that perish," goes further. " By a very singular series of 
reliefs," it says, "which were discovered in the temple of 
Dakkeh, in Nubia, by Champollion, we find Thoth again 
ascending to heaven, though three intermediate forms, the 
last of which is wisdom, light, splendour, Logos ; again to 
be absorbed in the supreme and One God, under his loftiest 

4o8 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

manifestation of Harhat, the thrice great Hermes, the 
celestial Sun ; or, in other words, the wisdom of God." 

The Atonement idea is sufficiently conspicuous, as 
may have been noticed by the reader of preceding pages. 
Stuart-Glennie observes : " In ancient Osirianism there is 
the doctrine of the Atonement." Dunbar Heath says: 
"We find propitiation thoroughly accepted by the death 
of a first-born son." In alluding to the four gods of the 
dead, Sharpe adds : " These gods befriend the deceased on 
his trial before the judges ; they sometimes present offerings 
to the judge, as mediators on his behalf; and they are 
sometimes sacrificed for him, he places them on the altar 
as his atoning sacrifice." Elsewhere he says : " They are 
themselves supposed to offer themselves as an atoning 
sacrifice on behalf of the sinner." 

Justification and Salvation were terms well under- 
stood in Egypt. The dead were said to \iQ justified ones. 
Mariette Bey found the word Ma Kheru, the justified, so 
applied as early as the sixth dynasty. " It is because 
Horus has been justified the first," remarks Naville, "that 
the Osirian (dead) hopes also to be absolved by the judges." 
Frequent reference is made to the crown of justification. A 
robe of righteousness was to be given, and was symbolized 
by the linen garb of the mummy. Finding one marked 
*' good gift," Dr. John Lee is led to say : " Although this 
sentence may imply that the garment of which this formed 
a part was the gift of a friend, yet it has also another 
meaning, referring to the garment in which the deceased is 
supposed to appear at the entrance of the Hall of Judgment 
— a kind of garment of righteousness." 

Mr. W. R. Cooper calls attention to Horus as "the 
beloved son of his father," the " sole-begotten of his father," 
and the "justifier of the righteous." Of "Horus the re- 
deemer," he says, " in which office he was the vicarious 

Messiah and Logos Woi'ship. 409 

protector of the souls of the deceased in Hades." As 
introducer of souls to his father, the judge Osiris, that 
learned and Christian writer adds : " At his entreaties the 
sins which the soul had committed were either ^Z^;/^^*^ /(?r 
or pardonedr 

What is commonly called the Christ-idea of humanity 
thus appears to have been the hope and consolation of the 
ancient Egyptians so many thousands of years ago. 


SOME have supposed that the Egyptians entertained 
the idea that Osiris, having risen and ascended to 
heaven, would descend and reign a thousand years on 
earth. They have alluded to the fable of the phoenix and 
its thousand years. But there is not much authority for 
the opinion. Attempts were made by some early Christian 
writers to show that there was an old tradition of a thousand 
years of peace to come. 

One thing is certain that the Millennial views either arose 
in Egypt, or were fostered there. Papias of Egypt took 
the materialistic view, and was opposed by Eusebius, who 
said he had "misunderstood the apostolic relations, not 
comprehending what was by them mystically uttered in 
similitudes." He calls him, therefore, ''a person of very 
confined mind." Nepos, a bishop in Egypt, was also an 
advocate of it, and was opposed by Dionysius, who writes : 
" Nepos taught that the promises in the Divine Scriptures 
should be realized rather after Jewish notions, and that 
there should be a certain space of a thousand years passed 
in bodily enjoyments on this earth." TertuUian, Origen, etc., 
were allegorists ; and even Augustine gave the Millennium 
a spiritual meaning only. While Irenaeus thought it would 
take place before the judgment, Augustine held it would 
be after. Those who fancy the Egyptian Ritual has 
references to the Millennium differ as to the time ; some 
read Osiris would come before he acted the judge ; and 
others, after that event. Irenaeus declares it a traditionary 

The Millennmin. 411 

doctrine. If not so very clear in Egypt, it was the hope of 
the ancient Persians and Babylonians. Mr. Talbot found 
the Assyrian account of the revolt in heaven like that 
described in the Book of Enoch and the Revelation. 

It is certainly singular that, while Assyrian accounts of 
the Deluge coincide with Genesis, and of the Millennium 
with the last book of the Bible (a part of which is con- 
jectured to be older than the Psalms), there are no such 
parallels between Jewish and Egyptian Scriptures. The 
latter know nothing of the Deluge, and are very obscure 
upon the Millennium. The Egyptian conception of the 
Re-incarnation may naturally have led to the expectation 
that Osiris would reappear on earth. The early Christian 
fathers referred to this hope. 


THE pious authoress of " Mazzaroth " wrote: "The 
Babylonians, Egyptians, Chinese, and the natives of 
India were acquainted with the seven days* division of 
time, as were the Druids." Dion Cassius derives the Egyp- 
tian days from the seven planets, — Sun, Moon, Mercury, 
Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. Montucla thought the week 
began on Saturday. Bailly says : " It is to the Egyptians 
that is attributed the idea of dedicating each day of the 
week to one of the planets." Sonnerat considered Saturday 
the Indian Sani or Saturn. Jahn says : " The Egyptians 
consecrated to Saturn the seventh day of the week." 

With the Egyptians, however, the seventh day was 
consecrated to Amen or Amoun, the Father, or Sun-god. 
Pauw was of opinion that " the Egyptians seem to have 
observed it very regularly." Bunsen, speaking of Set, adds, 
" He is the ass god of the Semitic tribes, who rested on 
the seventh day." Hesiod, Herodotus, Philostratus, etc., 
mention that day. Homer, Callimachus, and other ancient 
writers call the seventh day the holy one. Eusebius con- 
fesses its observance by " almost all the philosophers and 
poets." Lucian notes that it was given to schoolboys for a 
holiday. Dr. Schmitz observes : " The manner in which all 
public feriae (holidays) were kept, bears great analogy to 
our Sunday. The people generally visited the temples of 
the gods, and offered up their prayers and supplications. 
All kinds of business except lawsuits were suspended." 

As in other cases, we may get illustrative light from the 
Assyrian neighbours of the Egyptians. 

The Sabbath Day, 413 

The Rev. Mr. Sayce finds the day of rest an Assyrian 
word. Saturday in Central Asia is still Shambe, from the 
Persian Shabat. The Accadians, thousands of years ago, 
says Sayce, kept holy the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th of each 
month as Salinn, rest, '' on which certain works were for- 
bidden." Mr. George Smith wrote thus in 1876 : " In the 
year 1869 I discovered among other things a curious reli- 
gious calendar of the Assyrians in which every month is 
divided into four weeks, and the seventh days or Sabbaths 
are marked out as days in which no work shall be under- 
taken." Mr. H. F. Talbot quotes the Divine command from 
the Assyrian " Creation " tablet : — 

" On the seventh day he appointed a holy day, 
And to cease from all business he commanded." 


THIS was a very ancient rite, and by no means confined 
to Egypt. It has been recognized among the Kaffirs x, 
and other tribes of Africa, the Afghans and Tamils of Asia, 
the old Mexicans of America, the Fijians, Samoans, etc., of 
Polynesia, and some races of Australians. The antiquity 
of the custom may be assumed from the fact of New 
Hollanders, never known to civilized nations till a few 
years ago, having employed it. Higgins may be correct in 
putting it before the invention of writing. 

Herodotus and Strabo refer to it among Assyrians, Col- 
chians, etc. The first says of the Egyptian priests: ''They, 
also, practise circumcision for the sake of cleanliness." It 
has been from time immemorial among Abyssinians, though 
Christians. Josephus records that Ethiopians, Syrians and 
Phoenicians were said to have circumcised. He qualifies the 
assertion of others thus : '' yet it is evident that no other 
of the Syrians that live in Palestine beside ourselves alone 
are circumcised." Jerome notices the rite among Egyp- 
tians, Idumeans, Ammonites, and Moabites. Both Jews 
and Egyptians called Philistines the ttncircumcised. That 
it was pre-Mosaic appears from Gen. xvii. 11-14, in rela- 
tion to the seed of Abraham. Zipporah, going into Egypt, 
performed the rite herself upon her son. 

Egyptians were not all subject to the rite, as we know 
from examination of the bodies of mummies. Chabas 
remarks : " In the decorative pictures of the tombs one 
frequently meets with persons on whom the denudation 
of the prepuce is manifested." But both sexes adopted 

Circumcision, 4 1 5 

the rite ; in one case, circumcision ; in the other, excision. 
Many African tribes require their women still to be 
excised. Pythagoras had to submit to circumcision before 
being admitted to the Egyptian sacerdotal mysteries. The 
priests were circumcised to secure generative purity for 
holy service. Wilkinson declares its date, ''at least as 
early as the fourth dynasty (pyramid one), and probably 
earlier, long before the birth of Abraham." Pritchard 
deems it a relic of a very ancient African custom. 

On a stone found at Thebes there is a representation of 
the circumcision of the two sons of Ramses II. A mother 
is seen holding her boy's arms back, while the operator 
kneels in front. The lads were to be eight years old, not 
eight days. No knife could be used then, but only a 
sharpened stone. 

A remarkable passage occurs in a chapter of the Egyp- 
tian Scriptures: "The blood which fell from the phallus 
of the sun-god when he finished cutting himself" 

Circumcision was essentially an offering to the sun, the 
great generator. It was an acknowledgment of divine 
power in creation, which the ancients always regarded 
from a generative point of view. 


BAPTISM is a very ancient rite pertaining to heathen 
rehgions, whether of Asia, Africa, Europe or America. 
It was one of the Egyptian rites in the mysteries. Tertul- 
lian, in an allusion to the worship of Isis, says : "In cer- 
tain sacred rites of the heathen, the mode of institution 
is by baptism." There was in his day a sect protesting 
against water baptism, as being opposed to the spirituality 
of Christ's religion, and a revival of heathenish and Jewish 
customs. But these early Quakers were rebuked by the 
Father in the choice language too often adopted by early 
religious controversialists, and were called serpents ; " for," 
says Tertullian, " vipers, asps, and king serpents themselves 
mostly look after places that are dry and without water." 

The baptism of Egypt is known by the hieroglyphic 
terms of *' waters of purification." In Egypt, as in Peru, 
the water so used in immersion absolutely cleansed the 
soul, and the person was said to be 7'egenerated. The 
water itself was holy, and the place was known, as after- 
wards by the eastern Christians, by the name of holy bath. 
The early Christians called it being " brought anew into 
the world." The ancients always gave a new name at Bap- 
tism, which custom was afterwards followed by moderns. 
The Mithraic font for the baptism of ancient Persians is 
regarded as of Egyptian origin. Augustine may, then, 
well say that " in many sacrilegious rites of idols, persons 
ire reported to be baptized." 

The Eucharist, as maintained in all the ancient Chris- 
tian Churches, and believed in by many Protestants, was 

Baptism and the Eucharist. 417 

known in Egypt. As it is recognised that the bread after 
sacerdotal rites becomes mystically the body of Christ, so 
the men of the Nile declared their bread after sacerdotal 
rites became mystically the body of Isis or Osiris : in such 
manner they ate their god. Doubtless, the better informed 
held that the elements, by prayer, were so powerfully en- 
dowed with supernatural grace as to affect the soul's 
growth into the very nature of the gods. 

This doctrine of transubstantiation or consubstantiation 
is not, therefore, as some Protestant writers have asserted, 
a novelty in the Christian Church. On the contrary, espe- 
cially in places likely to be affected by the old Egyptian 
and Persian rites, early Christians adopted the view still 
held in the Greek and Roman Churches. 

The ancients somewhat differed in the mode of the holy 
meal. The old Persians had the liquid and the soHd, 
though water rather than wine was used, making the cere- 
mony after the fashion of Methodist Love Feasts. Mr. Brown 
says : '' Wine in the Dionysiak cult, as in the Christian 
religion, represents that blood which in different senses is 
the life of the world." The Egyptians were satisfied, it 
would seem, with the bread alone, as is the Romish Church 
now. Justin Martyr gives us a plain testimony in these 
words : " In imitation of which the devil did the like in the 
mysteries of Mithras (Persian), for you either know or may 
know that they also take bread and a cup of water in the 
sacrifices of those that are initiated, and pronounce certain 
zuords over it!' 

The cakes of Isis were, like the cakes of Osiris, of a round 
shape. They were placed upon the altar. Gliddon writes 
that they were " identical in shape with the consecrated 
cake of the Roman and Eastern Churches." Melville 
assures us, " The Egyptians marked this holy bread with 
St. Andrew's Cross." The Presence bread was broken be- 

E E 

4 1 8 Egpytian Belief and Modern Thonght. 

fore being distributed by the priests to the people, and was 
supposed to become the flesh and blood of the Deity. The 
miracle was wrought by the hand of the officiating priest, 
who blessed the food. Singularly enough, the mark of that 
action is still to be seen in specimens remaining in Egypt ; 
for Rouge tells us, " The bread offerings bear the imprint 
of the fingers, the mark of consecration." 

Another interesting parallel may be mentioned. The 
cakes of Isis were not only eaten from the hand of the 
priest, but were taken to persons unable to be present. 
Bingham, the ecclesiastical authority, informs his readers 
that in the daily communion of the early Church, the sacra- 
mental bread was taken to the homes of- those unable to 
come to Church. This practice was, however, subsequently 

Holy Water was sprinkled by the Egyptian priest 
alike upon his gods^ images and the faithful. It was both 
poured and sprinkled. A brush has been found, supposed 
to have been used for that purpose, as at this day. 


A PERUSAL of the 25th of Matthew will prepare the 
reader for the investigation of the Egyptian notion of 
the Last Judgment. The pre-Christian Talmudic Jews told 
the tale of the event in a similar way. Prof. Carpenter, 
referring to the Egyptian Bible, says : " In this Book of the 
Dead, there are used the very phrases we find in the New 
Testament, in connection with the Day of Judgment." 

The Egyptian version is not difficult to discover. No 
dogma is more frequently alluded to on their monuments, 
or pictured in their sacred books. The Religious Tract 
Society and the Christian Knowledge Society have in their 
publications brought out the subject of these illustrations. 
Sarcophagi are seen decorated with representations of the 
event ; the Soane Museum specimen is beautifully and ex- 
pressively sculptured to show scenes of the Last Judgment. 
Papyri tell the same story by hieroglyphics and sketches. 

The main circumstances are these : The soul of the dead 
is brought to judgment, after its tour through the halls 
of purgatory. Osiris, once the dying and risen one, is 
seated on the throne as judge. Horus conducts the soul 
to the balance, where it is weighed against an image of 
truth and justice. Thoth, with his tablet, keeps a record 
of the weight. Sentence is passed by the president, and 
ministers of grace or wrath are ready to execute his will. 
This is the closing drama of the human soul. 

The writer noticed at Turin, in the hundreds of coloured 
illustrations on that extensive and magnificent papyrus, 

420 Egyptian Belief and Alodern Thought. 

various versions of the judgment. Osiris sits or stands. His 
head-dresses are different. Pleading or intercessory figures 
are introduced : it may be a goddess, a god, a priest, an 
anxious earthly friend. Grief and entreaty are marked in 
their attitude and expression. An altar with sacrifices is 
before the judge. Thoth is beside the balance, or with a 
goddess to the rear. Anubis declares the account to Thoth. 
The four genii of the dead are upon a lotus before Osiris, 
watching on behalf of the soul. Isis and Nephthys, those 
gentle goddesses who so befriend man, are generally near 
at hand, ready with their good offices. Horus himself 
often pleads with his father on behalf of the soul. 

The dead had previously passed his examination before 
each of the forty- two divine assessors in Hades. They 
have received his confession, and interrogated him as to his 
earthly doings. The " Ritual of the Dead" gives the nature 
of these questions. Some of the replies occur in other 
chapters of this work. 

" In the confession," says the learned Rev. A. Hislop, in 
his " Two Babylons," " there was a mimic rehearsal of the 
dread weighing that was to take place at last in the judg- 
ment scene before the tribunal of Osiris. There the priest 
sat in judgment on the good deeds and bad deeds of his 
penitents ; and as his power and influence were, to a large 
extent, on the mere principle of slavish dread, he took care 
that the scale should generally turn in the wrong direction, 
that they might be more subservient to his will in casting 
in a due amount of good works into the opposite scale." 

There was a deal of human nature then, as now, in the 
confessional. Whether the Egyptian priest made use of a 
manual after the style of that just brought out by Dr. 
Pusey, for guidance in the art of questioning and ghostly 
counsel, or whether he was left to his own resources in that 
delicate duty, we have no means of ascertaining. It is. 

The Last Judgment, \2\ 

however, interesting to see how they turned to account the 
popular belief in a Last Judgment. 

Just below the throne of judgment squats the hippopota- 
mus deity, with jaws open, ready for his share of the 
condemned. He is on a high or low pedestal, watching, 
like the open-mouthed Scandinavian goddess Hel, or the 
Jewish yawning gate of Sheol. Sometimes a blue-coloured 
god holds the balance on his shoulder before Osiris. An 
ape, the emblem of equilibrium, often sits on the top of the 
balance. Occasionally a vase of good actions is seen in 
one of the scales. On one picture a god is seen leading in 
the soul, while the legend says: "Come and see the infernal 
Osiris, that he may grant thee good things belonging to 
the holy dead." Horus, too, may be observed most atten- 
tively weighing the human heart. Full particulars may 
be read in the 125th chapter of the Ritual. One of the 
earliest representations of the Last Judgment is on a tomb 
of Pepi, of the sixth dynasty, B.C. 3500. 

On an Assyrian tablet it is written : " And may the sun, 
greatest of the gods, receive the sacred soul into his holy 
hands." Mr. H. R Talbot observes : " Manifestly this 
passage implies a judgment, the sun being a judge, in 
which the souls of the righteous are saved, but others con- 
demned ; and such I find to have been the belief of the 
Assyrians." Bishop Hurd notices some Chinese pictures. 
'- One of them" says he, "always represents a sinner in a 
pair of scales, with his iniquities in the one, and his good 
works in the other." Vaux's " Nineveh " has this account 
of the Parsee doctrine, evidently a very old one : — 

" For three days after dissolution the soul is supposed to 
flit round its tenement of clay, in hopes of re-union ; on 
the fourth, the angel Seroch appears and conducts it to the 
bridge of Chinevad. On this structure, which they assert 
connects heaven and earth, sits the Angel of Justice to 

42 2 Egyptian Belief and Modem Thonght. 

weigh the actions of mortals. When the good deeds pre- 
vail, the soul is met on the bridge by a dazzling figure, 
which says : ' I am thy good angel ; I was pure originally, 
but thy good deeds have rendered me purer ' ; and, passing 
his hand over the neck of the blessed soul, leads it to 
Paradise. If iniquities preponderate, the soul is met by a 
hideous spectre, which howls out : ' I am thy evil genius ; 
I was impure from the first, but thy misdeeds have made 
me fouler ; through thee we shall remain miserable till the 
resurrection.' The sinning soul is then dragged away to 
hell, where Ahriman sits to taunt it with its cries." 

In the Egyptian story of the Last Judgment, apes are 
seen carrying away the wicked to punishment, and good 
deities accompany good souls to the blessed place. It had 
its moral phases. " Osiris " says one old inscription, " will 
judge thee after thy death. Thou canst not deceive him, 
for he sees all, and knows all the truth. Watch over thy 
conduct, if thou wishest to be rewarded, if thou wishest 
not to be punished." 

This subject, like others of the Egyptian theology, can- 
not fail to impress thoughtful minds at the present day. It 
is another illustration of how far in advance of other nations 
the men of the Nile were as to religious conceptions. 


WITH our present sources of information, the fore- 
going description of the Egyptian Belief may be 
accepted as approximately correct. At the same time, a 
consciousness of insufficient data should preserve us from 
dogmatism upon that early faith. Certain broad features 
are apparent, but details are wanting to fill up the picture. 

One thing must be clear to all ; — our inability to under- 
stand the spirit of the ancient Egyptian religion. Those 
who appreciate Christianity truly compare the dogmas to a 
skeleton framework, which can give but a very imperfect 
conception of the man. 

The ingenious author of "Divinites Egyptiennes" satirizes 
the assumptions of moderns in the investigation of ex- 
ponents of old creeds. He supposes the visit of some 
antiquarian, a few thousands of years hence, to the ruins of 
Notre Dame in Paris. Observing there the sculptured repre- 
sentation of the Last Judgment, he would probably exclaim, 
" The ancient Frenchmen certainly had a belief in another 
life." But when he saw the figure of the Virgin Mary 
standing on the moon, he might conclude that she was the 
emblem of the moon. The multiplication of this image 
would lead him to say, " The worship of this idol appears 
to have been very widely spread." The number of figures 
with the nimbus about the head might bring the conclu- 
sion that the ancient French vv^ere sun worshippers ; or lead 
to remark, " If they sometimes speak of an only god in 
their inscriptions, they nevertheless adored a crowd of sub- 
ordinate gods, whose idols are found." 

424 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

M. Beauregard then proceeds to compare the Egyptian 
with the CathoHc rehgion of his country. He finds three 
principal terms in the earher : — ist, the behef in the Sup- 
reme Being, hght of the world, Avw2in-Ra\ 2nd, the 
belief in the divine incarnation, Osiris ; 3rd, the divine 
homage due to the memory of priests, founders of the 
Egyptian nationality, represented by Ptah, the divine 
worker. He then translates those terms into Catholicism : 
1st, the belief in God, the light of the world ; 2nd, the 
belief in Jesus Christ, the divine incarnation ; 3rd, the 
divine homage rendered to the memory of the Apostles, 
founders of the Christian religion. 

The Egyptians had a very fair conception of the God- 
head, the self-creator. In spite of the obscurity of their 
symbolical Scriptures, one perceives, as M. Chabas remarks, 
that, " the abstract idea of Divinity frequently intervenes in 
the text, as if the author had the notion of Divine unity and 
individuality;" and also that the mythology ''has found 
the means of associating two notions diametrically oppo- 
site, that of filiation and that of increation." The Logos 
-^ idea, developed by Plato and Neoplatonists, was essentially 
Egyptian ; though the Son, proceeding from the Father, 
was his equal, or himself. 

The brilliancy of the light resting upon the old doctrine 
of the Resurrection has justly excited the admiration of 
moderns. The details of the Final Judgment have aston- 
ished the Christian world. 

But the story of Osiris is the most wonderful of all. In 
an old French translation of Plutarch's " Isis " occurs the 
following statement: "At the birth of Osiris, there was 
heard a voice that the Lord of all the earth was coming in 
being ; and some say that a woman, named Pamgle, as she 
was going to carry water to the temple of Amnion, in the 
city of Thebes, heard that voice, which commanded her to 

Conclusion, 425 

proclaim it with a loud voice, that the great beneficent god 
Osiris was born." 

The recognition of a parallel between the faith of Bud- 
dhism and his own Catholic creed got the Jesuit traveller, 
Hue, into great trouble, and his book was placed in the 
Index. Others notice some parallel elsewhere, but are in, 
what a writer calls, '' a state of mind which dreads above 
all things expulsion from the social synagogue." 

Maimonides, the great Jewish philosopher, long ago saw 
and faced the difficulty, especially the identity of his own 
Mosaic system with the older Egyptian rites. "The 
divine wisdom and providence of God," says he, " did not 
ordain the abandonment or abolition of all such worship. 
For it is the well-known disposition of the human heart to 
cling to that to which it has been habituated. To have 
decreed the entire abolition of all such worship would, 
therefore, have been the same as if a prophet should come 
and say : ' It is the command of God, that in the day of 
trouble ye shall not pray, nor fast, nor publicly seek him, 
but your worship shall be purely mental.'" 

This line of argument may be appropriately followed by 
others. But the discovery of such alliances must assuredly 
peril the supposed infallibility of our own modern views 
of truth, and teach us reverence for the ancients. 

Many, like Mr. Gladstone, find refuge in the notion of a 
primitive belief, with fixed dogmas. They see the germs 
of nature worship engrafted on the stock of true religion, 
shadowing forth the Christian articles of faith. Was it, then, 
on account of their greater antiquity that the Egyptians 
had so much clearer evangelical light than the Jews of 
the Old Testament t Mr. Gladstone's argument may prove 
too much. Yet one is drawn sometimes to say with 
Morgan Kavanagh : " The true believer must hail with 
rapture the discovery of the doctrine of types." 


426 Egyptian Belief and Modern Tlionght. 

The most striking opinion bearing upon this question has 
been expressed by St. Augustine, the pillar of the Church, 
who boldly carries out the type idea ; saying : " for the 
thing itself which is now called the Christian religion, 
really was knoivn to the anciejits, nor w^as wanting at any 
time from the beginning of the human race, until the time 
when Christ came in the flesh, whence the true religion, 
ivhich had previously existed, began to be called Christian." 
The Egyptian religion was, therefore, according to him, 
like the Mosaic, a system of Christian types, and not, as 
generally assumed, an idolatrous and abominable worship. 

Professor Max Miiller remarks, '' Of religion, too, as of 
language, it may be said, in it everything new is old, and 
everything old is new, and that there has been no entirely 
new religion since the beginning of the world. The elements 
and roots of religion were there, as far back as we can 
trace the history of man ; and the history of religion, like 
the history of language, shows us throughout a succession 
of new combinations of the same radical elements." 

Homer tells us that " all men yearn after the gods." 
Men in all ages, even before the date of the pyramids, 
sought a Being to account for all things, and one, too, for 
themselves to worship. Morals, if not necessarily associ- 
ated with creed, are influenced by it, as illustrated in Mr. 
Wake's "Evolution of Morality." A desire to imitate a holy 
and loving Father in Heaven, has been a fruitful source 
of holy and loving lives on earth. If, then, we fail to 
reconcile -conflicting theories about the Egyptian religion, 
we may, at least, most gratefully recognize what was noble 
and true therein, especially that which tended to bring 
men in kindness together, which drew them in heart to 
God, and which illumined their path in the Valley of the 
Shadow of Death. Happy that people whose piety gives 
peace on earth, and whose faith in the unseen future leaves 
hope to the bereaved and beloved ! 



IT is not the purpose of the author to discuss the unity or pkirality 
of the human race. There is, perhaps, httle difficulty in tracing 
all nations to one family, provided no restriction be placed as to time. 
Most writers find it hard to trace Chinese, Americans, Australians, 
Hottentots, Malays and Europeans to the exit of the three sons of 
Noah about 4000 years ago ; but, allowing them twice, thrice, or ten 
times that period, their obstacles to the unity diminish. 

A few years ago Mr. Huxley startled us with the interrogation : 
" Who are the English ?" As British Ethnologists are unable to trace, 
with approximate distinctness, the origin of their own fraction of the 
earth's inhabitants, they can scarcely be competent to decide upon 
the origin of man in Egypt. Still, theories have been started, and a 
wealth of words has been expended on them. 

Herodotus, Diodorus, Justin Martyr, Prof. Piazzi Smyth, and 
others favour the idea of their aboriginal character. The Greeks 
were assured that the first men arose in Egypt. Mr. Piazzi Smyth 
seems to favour this idea when he writes : " The Egyptians can be 
traced back as Egyptians in language, figure and architecture to no 
other country." Mr. Morton, of American Crania reputation, calls 
them aborigines ; " for the Caucasian group had many primordial 
centres, of which the Egyptians represent one." As tradition makes 
the first man formed of earth, it was said human beings began from 
the mud of the Nile. 

An Arab writer, with an Arab's sympathy for Egypt, has a curious 
tale. "When Adam was created," says he; "God caused him to 
admire the figure of the earth, and showed him how he had arranged 
our planet in East and West. And Adam, remarking the soil of 
Egypt, a fine surface watered by a fine river, whose source in Paradise 
rolled down blessings, etc. Adam prayed God to bless for ever the 
Nile and the land of Egypt, and cover them with his gifts and graces. 
The Eternal, acceding to the request of the first man, blessed the 

428 Egyptian Belief and Modern ThougkL 

Nile and land of Egypt seven times." After this, who would be 
astonished at Adam bringing up his family there ? 

Those who hold the theory of the high antiquity of man will re- 
cognize the value of the researches of gentlemen like Mr. Horner, who 
dug about Egyptian monuments, and pierced the Nile deposit for 
above fifty feet. From observations at the Obelisk of Heliopolis and 
the statue of Ramses II. he calculated the accumulation of soil to be 
three inches in a century. Bringing up a bit of rude pottery from a 
depth of thirty-nine inches from the surface, he fancied it had been 
there for 13,000 years. The increase of mud may not be very uniform, 
and the broken vessel may have sunk somewhat in the silt. Mr. 
Horner's observations have more weight as supported by evidences of 
antiquity from other fields. 

The finding of flint weapons in Egypt is no certain proof of age. 
When at the Cairo Museum, the writer was struck with the fact that 
stone weapons were in use during very civilized epochs, being con- 
current with those of bronze. M. Arcelin, 1869, alluding to collections 
at Assouan, Abou-Mangar, etc., prudently remarked : " Posterior re- 
searches will teach us if we must attribute these dSris to the ancestors 
of the Egyptians." Several French writers refer them to a stone and 
ante-Pharaonic age, while Pruner Bey is doubtful. Capt. Burton and 
other British anthropologists have no doubt of the pre-historic cha- 
racter of some deposits of flints near Cairo, etc. Rosellini more than 
once gathered flints from mummies, and Lepsius detected six flakes in 
a tomb of the fifth dynasty. Hamy considers the stone hatchets like 
those of western Europe. M. Lenormant concludes an argument in 
these words : " If the Ancient Egyptians had been accustomed for ages 
to use stone knives in the preparation of mummies {and, also, in 
circumcision), we can understand their reluctance to alter an imme- 
morial custom, and make use of a new substance, such as bronze. This 
very fact, therefore, seems to me an indication that they had passed 
through an Age of Stone, and had even made very considerable ad- 
vances in civilization before they were acquainted with the use of 

What do we mean by the Egyptian type? M. Rouge' counted 
twenty-three different races in the pictorial train of the conqueror 
Amenophis III. No one can attentively gaze upon tablets, papyri 
and statues from Egypt, without recognizing several very distinct 
types of population. The nahsi or negroes, who were subdued by 
the Pyramid men under the fourth dynasty, are there to be seen as 
truly Sambo in colour, hair, nose and lip, five or six thousand years 
ago, as we know them to-day. The Nubian, with his black shining 

Appendix A. 429 

coat, and truly handsome and intelligent features, was then as distinct 
from the negro as he is now. Dark races, and some very unpro- 
gressed ones, that are still unprogressed, were there in the most 
remote period. 

Herodotus, it is true, talks of the Egyptians as black ; and ^schylus 
describes an Egyptian crew as of that colour. If the Greek historian 
gave them dark faces, he added the flowing hair. Could they have 
been really black, when Homer praises Memnon for his beauty? 
Hesiod, though, seems to make Ethiopians of them. When Mr. 
Hoskins was in Upper Egypt he thought he was among mummy 
men. Rosellini declared that the present Barabra of Nubia were the 
descendants of the Egyptians, and remarked how their brown com- 
plexions under the solar rays assumed the red tint of the figures on 
the walls. 

On the tomb of Seti I. are noticed men of four colours. The true 
Egyptians are painted red, and called retou. The Asiatics, ainou, are 
yellow. The white race, tamJiu, are the so-called Japhetic men of the 
north. The nahsi, or negroes, form the fourth broad variety. Accord- 
ing to Baron Bonstetten, the tainhu, or whites, pictured with leather 
dress and tattooed limbs, were the cromlech builders from the Baltic, 
related to the men who reared the druidical monuments of Britain. 
They have been traced to Libya, on the north-west. 

The Khita confederation of Hittites repeatedly appear on monu- 
ments. They have a shaven crown, with a single lock of hair, coloured 
garments, and wicker shields. While Lenormant sees a resemblance 
to Aryan-Accadian-Chaldees, others refer them to a Tartar origin. 
The amoii were certainly what we now call Mongolian. The roteiinoic 
were Syrians or Assyrians. The kefa may have been Canaanites. 
The aperit, mentioned on statues of Ramses II., the period of the 
Exodus, have been thought Hebrews by Chabas. The mazaiou, 
conquered by the twelfth dynasty, were then incorporated with the 
Egyptians. The pathrousi7n were a people about Sais. The sJiasu 
were Semitic intruders. The anu or annamim^ like the hit or ruty are 
spoken of as the most ancient inhabitants of Egypt. 

The recent edition of the " Encyclopaedia Britannica," in the article 
on "Egypt," has some ethnological statements. "In Genesis," it 
says, " the Lehabim or Lubim appear as a race kindred to the Egyp- 
tians. In the Egyptian inscriptions they are called Rebu or Lebu, 
and appear on early monuments as a dark people. Under the Empire, 
they have Caucasian characteristics. The change was probably due 
to the great maritime migration of the Pelasgic tribes, in which the 
Libyans had an important share." But the article has this distinct 

430 Egyptian Belief and Modern T/ioiigJd. 

observation : " None of the primitive nations whom the Bible men- 
tions as supplanted in the period before Joshua have been traced on 
the monuments." 

Examinations of mummies have not been quite satisfactory, from 
the injury to the hair and flesh following certain preparations. The 
long, lank hair of some is very noticeable. Costaz writes : " The hair 
of the men is very dark, curled, but not short as among the negroes." 
Heeren observes that "the higher castes of warriors and priests, 
according to the representations on all the monuments executed in 
colours, belonged to the fairer class ; their colour is brownish.'' An 
Egyptian commercial contract has this description of the consenting 
parties ; the seller is of a darkish brown, and the buyer is styled 

Mizraim, an ancient name of Kem, Kam, or Egypt, is a word applied 
generically to a number of people, and will not help our enquiries. 
Bryant, author of "Antient Mythology" introduces Scripture names, 
and talks of Mizriam, Cush, Ham, Canaan, etc., to confusion. Dr. 
Beke, in his " Origines Biblicae," says that the earhest people were 
Cushites, or the Ethiopians of Jeremiah ; and that the other race 
were the Mitzrites of Scripture. He alludes to the well known easy 
births of negresses, and then shows that the reference, in Exodus i. 19, 
to the difficult labours of the Egyptians, indicates their difference 
from the Hebrews, whose women were " lively." Yet he elsewhere 
points out their affinity to the Jewish stock ; as "the people in whose 
country Joseph became naturalized, so that his brethren believed him 
to be a native of it ; with whom alliances were permitted by the 
Israehtish lawgiver (Deut. xxiii. 7, 8) ; one of which people was, in 
fact, the mother of the heads of two of the tribes of Israel (Gen. xli. 
50, 52), and another of whom was, at a later period, the wife of king 
Solomon, could not possibly have been of a much darker complexion 
than the Israelites themselves." 

The Jews were of the Arab or Semitic race. Pliny cites Juba to 
prove that the people of the Delta were of Arabian and not Ethiopian 
origin. The Arabs of the Desert must not be confounded with those of 
the Towns. A king of the sixth dynasty warred against the Herusha, 
or men of the sand. But the Arabs of Takheba had vines and fig 
trees, which were cut down by the Egyptians. Ludolf has no doubt 
of the Egyptians being Arabs still ; but Schoelcher declares " it is an 
error to believe there are Arabs in Egypt ; they are only Egyptians, 
for that the Fellahs are the pure descendants of the Ancient Egyp- 
tians." The writer heard the ordinary Fellah always called Arab. M. 
Jomard contends for an Arab origin, possibly from the Himyarites. 

Appendix A, 431 

Perier. comparing arguments for Hindoo and Arab, says "the last is 
incontestably that which ought to be regarded as approaching nearest 
the truth/' Further on he writes : " This supposition does not satisfy 
us ; our judgment remains suspended." Mr. Pritchard sees no such 
identity. Mr. R. S. Poole adds, "the Egyptian type, though nearer 
to the Arab than of old, is still almost essentially unchanged." 

The Semitic origin of the Egyptians has been strongly urged on 
several grounds, especially the remarkable likeness of rehgious rites. 
Either Jews and Arabs got their faith and ceremonies from Egypt, or 
they and the Egyptians obtained them from some common source. 
Assyrian discoveries satisfy us that the Semitic people of the 
Euphrates were long preceded by a Turanian one. The very alphabet 
of the Semites, says the Rev. A. H. Sayce, " was borrowed and 
adapted, in Assyria from Turanians, in Palestine from Egypt." The 
learned Professor sees httle help on the Semite origin question from 
the Bible ; saying, " The Old Testament is relatively too modern. Its 
grammar and its vocabulary have already passed into a later stage of 
the development of language. They are too much akin to those of 
Arabic or Aramaic. And even apart from this, the Old Testament is 
both too scanty, and has been too much exposed to the corruption of 
copyists, and the misconceptions of a late tradition." 

The Cushite is more intangible than the Semite. The so-called 
Hamites were occidental and oriental, the Ethiopians of old. And 
yet they should not be confounded with Canaanites. The accomplished 
author of " The Great Dionysiak Myth " says : " I cannot but agree 
with Bochart, Kenrick, Lenormant and others, that the Phoenicians 
were a branch or branches of the Kanaanites." The Philistines he 
would bring from Crete, though the island may have been originally 
peopled from Egypt. Mr. Zincke will not have the Egyptians either 
African or Semite. 

The Atlantidse have been supposed the ancestors of the Pharaohs. 
Plato heard of these lost but highly-civilized people from his grand- 
father, who gained his information from Solon, to whom the Egyptians 
had told the tale. M. Bailly, in his Letters to Voltaire, says : " The 
Atlantidae made their appearance in Egypt. — It was in Syria and in 
Phrygia, as well as Egypt, that they established the worship of the 
sun." Some thought they came from Northern Asia ; and others 
from some island formerly existing in the Atlantic. 

The Asiatic origin of the Egyptians has been more generally con- 

The marvellous hkeness of Hindoo and Egyptian thought, the simi- 
larity of social customs not less than intellectual and religious opinions, 

432 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thonght, 

led many to regard one derived from the other, or both from one com- 
mon Aryan origin in the shadowy past. Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson, while 
convinced that " we may look to the Asiatic origin of the Egyptians 
for any analogy between them and other oriental nations of antiquity," 
adds that "neither the Hindoos borrowed from Egypt, nor Egypt 
from the Hindoos, who were not even settled south of the Punjaub at 
the time when Egypt was flourishing. Whatever relationship may 
have existed originally between the Egyptian and Hindoo races before 
they both left Central Asia, we look in vain for any between them 
after that period." 

On the other hand, the ancient Scriptures of India indicate a re- 
mote connection of the two countries. One Sanscrit name for Egypt, 
Misra-Sthan, is very like Mizraim, son of Ham. Ivlenes, the first 
king, is like in the sound of his name, and his adventures, to the India 
Menu. Another name for Egypt, Sancha-Dwecp, has a reference to 
serpents ; and the Vedas mention a cannibal race of Upper Egypt, 
called the Sanchalas, who lived in caves. The Dweeps or Dityes, in 
another story, were vanquished by Prince Nahusha, from India ; 
Nahusha meaning the Nile. The river was stated to have been filled 
with the slain. " This," says the learned Maurice, " can only allude 
to the first virtuous colonies, of Shemite extraction, with Satyaurata- 
Menu, or some other patriarchal chief, at their head, conquering the 
stubborn and malignant race of Cuthite origin, who opposed his equit- 
able laws." A more natural suggestion is put forth,— that it "may 
allude to the physical evil that has overspread the face of the earth, — 
the ferocious savages, the inundating waters, and the pestilential 
vapours, personified under the form of demons, malignant in mind, 
and hideous in aspect." 

Major Wilford, one of the most philosophical writers on India, sees 
in the Vedas a poetical representation of the great struggle between 
the Mediterranean Sea and the River Nile in the Deha, or of rival 
colonists there. "On the banks of the Nile" says he, " there had 
been long contests between the Devatas and the Dityes (Dweeps) ; 
but the latter tribe having prevailed, their king and leader, San- 
chasura (Great Serpent), who resides in the ocean, made frequent in- 
cursions into the country." 

We have much about this Serpent King in the Vedas. He rescued 
the first wretched inhabitants of Egypt from residence in caves, when 
the land was undrained and uncultivated. The Major lucidly explains 
the story. The Nile " having passed the great ridge, enters Carda- 
masthan, or the lajidofmud', which obviously means the fertile Egyp- 
tian valley, so long covered with mud after every inundation. The 

Appendix A, 433 

Poorauns give a dreadful idea of that muddy land, and assert that no 
mortal durst approach it. But this we must understand as the opinion 
formed of it by the first colonists, who were alarmed by the reptiles 
and monsters abounding in it, and had not yet seen the beauty and 
richness of its fertile state." It is not unreasonable to suppose that 
an ancient tradition of Central Asia about Egypt thus, at length, got 
perpetuated in written story, with the usual oriental exaggerations. 
The Yoingees, or earth-born, are said to have been driven out of India, 
and found their way to Egypt. They may have been the followers of 
the fabled Isuara, who contended with Vishnu : that is, a conflict took 
place between the Fire and Water principles, and their respective 

As Mr. Schliemann found the most ancient settlers on the rock of 
the plains of Troy to be, by their symbols, of Aryan origin, using the 
Indian Simstika, and having urns with both Assyrian and Etruscan 
decorations, the race had a wide extension in early days ; though 
Rouge fancies the Anma, vanquished by Ramses II., were the people 
of Ilium. 

Archdeacon Squire, in 1744, had a distinct idea of the question; 
saying, "Egypt was colonized about 130 years after the Flood by 
emigrant Asiatics, descendants of Ham." How enviable are people 
with decided views, who k^ioza all about it ! 

Herder, following Diodorus Siculus, etc., declares, "The Egyptians 
were a people of Southern Asia, who travelled westward over the Red 
Sea." Sir William Jones believed that a colony from the Indus settled 
in Nubia ; though Jomard decides that the monuments of Nubia are 
posterior to the Theban, which are younger than the Memphite. 
The old tradition of the derivation of the Egyptians from the Ethio- 
pians is explained by the fact that Homer and others distinctly indi- 
cate Asia as one region of Ethiopians, and M. Langles affirms that 
the ancients recognized India under the name of Ethiopia. Perier 
points out figures in the Cave of Elephanta with a true Egyptian type. 
When the author saw these supposed African figures, he imagined it 
more likely that those gods came from Egypt. 

Maspero, whilst believing that " no part of the Bible attributes to 
the Egyptians an Asiatic proceeding," finally concludes that they 
"belong to that which one may call the proto-Semitic races." He 
says : " The Egyptians appear to have soon lost the remembrance of 
-their origin." Eckstein is an advocate for Asia, referring to the 
" basin of the Indus," as " the seat of the primitive civilization trans- 
ported to the valley of the Nile." Sir Gardner Wilkinson is in sym- 
pathy with him, when writing : " Egypt was certainly more Asiatic 

F F 

434 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought . 

than African." Brugsch regards the people as Caucasian from Asia. 
Kenrick, a careful writer, says : " the Egyptians may be said to be 
intermediate between the Syro-Arabian and the Ethiopic type ; but a 
long gradation separates them from the negro. The evidence derived 
from the examination of the skulls of the mummies approximates the 
Egyptians rather to the Asiatic than the African type." 

Then we have M. de Gobineau writing: "Whilst they carry in all the 
figured representations the evidently Caucasian character, I conclude 
that the civilizing party of the nation had a white origin. From Aryan 
traces which are found in their language, I also conclude their prim- 
itive identity with the Sanscrit family." Professor Lepsius, who has 
done so much for Egyptian literature, agrees with him ; saying, " The 
Caucasian affinity of the Egyptian language is to-day a thing generally 
admitted, and decisive in favour of the Asiatic origin of the Egypt- 

Then, there is the Yellow theory. Lenormant writes : " The 
Egyptians painted on the tombs of the first empire are clear yelloivP 
Perier adds : " We are sure that the most ancient figures are imprinted 
in colour approaching yellow." Not a few of the learned have turned 
to the Tartar Turanian for an explanation of the Egyptian ethnolo- 
gical puzzle. The yellow people of China were, therefore, allied to the 
men of the Nile. 

Jules Baissac has some interesting remarks upon the Aryan ivJiite, 
and the Turanian yellow. " If the Aryan race," he says, " is distin- 
guished from its neighbours by the qualifications light, illustrious, 
noble, that has been only by the extension of the primitive sense of 
white. The colour of the skin was that which determined the opposi- 
tion in which the first human families were placed to one another. 
Now, even as the Aryans have at first been whites, in the same 
manner, believe us, the Turanians, their antagonists, or opposites, 
whom history generally designates under the name of Sacce, have 
taken that denomination from a term which is preserved in the Mongo- 
lian languages, and which signifies yellow. — The yellow is for them 
the noble colour, as the white was for our fathers." 

The Turanian element, so called, was, undeniably, the basis of 
population in Chaldea, reputed to have been a colony from Egypt ; 
and the sacred writing of the Babylonians, after the entrance of the 
Aryans, was decidedly Turanian. " The Semites," says Mr. George 
Smith, " appear to have conquered the Turanians, although they had 
not yet imposed their language upon the country." The Cushite 
aborigines of Media and Persia were ultimately subdued by the Aryans, 
though their Magian or magic religion was ever counteracting the true 

Appendix A, 435 

Zoroastrian. Fathers Kircher and Huet suppose China to have been 
an Egyptian colony. 

Before leaving the Asiatic question, we must try and trace the 
Hycsos, or Shepherd Tribes of Egypt. 

Manetho says that the Hycsos reigned 511 years at Avaris, on the 
Bubastic branch of the Nile. On the Sallier papyrus, we read of them 
as enemies who were "in the fortress of the sun (Heliopolis), and their 
chief, Apepi, at Avaris." Elsewhere, the hieroglyphics teach us that 
"the king Ra-Apepias chose himself the god Soutech as Lord, and 
there was no servant of any other god existing in the entire country." 
M. Rouge has translated from the tomb at El-Kab, belonging to one 
Ames, the story of the expulsion of the Hycsos, and in which expedi- 
tion Ames took a part. Amosis, the first king of the eighteenth 
dynasty, is reported as the victor over the invaders. 

Manetho's story, of very doubtful character, is as follows : " In the 
reign of our king Timaus, God was on some account angry with us ; 
and suddenly an army of men from the eastern region, who were of 
obscure origin, boldly invaded our country, and easily subdued it, 
without so much as fighting a battle. These men, having got the 
rulers of it in their power, afterwards barbarously burnt the cities, and 
demolished the altars of the gods." Salatis is named as the king of 
the force. 

The Israelites, according to M. Pleyte and others, were Hycsos. 
Both are referred to as lepers, ultimately driven from Egypt. Some 
identify the Israelites with the Khita, or Hittites, of Herodotus. Others 
refer them to the Aperi-u, or Apra, occasionally named on the monu- 
ments, especially of the time of the warlike Ramses II. They are 
mentioned in the hieroglyphics as at work on buildings at Memphis, 
the Ramses of Scripture. But as the Aperi appear on stete of Ramses 
v., it was concluded that all did not leave the land at the Exodus. 
Dr. Eisenlohr sees no connection " with the Hebrews of the Bible." 
That there was a great mixture of races then we know from the 
Pentateuch, where one wife of Moses was an Arab, and the other an 
Ethiopian. The dislike of shepherds in Egypt has been attributed to 
the likeness of the sons of Jacob to the old Hycsos shepherds. The 
jealousy of the desert tribes is seen in Joseph's remark : " Ye are 
spies." Jacob had to change his Semitic name for an Egyptian one. 

But the natural anxiety to find support for Jewish history in Egyp- 
tian hieroglyphics is not always wisely exhibited. The eagerness with 
which supposed identities have been seized has exposed Biblical 
advocates to the charge of a want of confidence in their own belief ; 
while the failure of expectations has subjected them to the scorn of the 

43 6 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

doubter. Egyptologists cannot read so perfectly as to leave no 
indecision. While the Judah-Melek at Karnac, that was conquered 
by the king of Egypt, was conjectured to be the king of Judah, 
Rougd and Brugsch conclude the word to refer to a town of Palestine. 
The Hycsos, according to the best authorities, reigned on the Nile 
from the fourteenth to the eighteenth dynasties ; though Dr. Birch 
limits their space, saying, " The rule of the Hycsos did not extend much 
beyond Memphis." He adds : " They are neither Semitic nor Ara- 
maean, and would, but for other considerations, pass for good Egyptian 
Pharaohs." He admits that they " have even been supposed to 
be the Saarii or Troglodytes of Mount Seir." Lepsius warns his 
readers that they were not there when Joseph entered the country. 
Dr. Smith's "Ancient History" makes them only masters for 200 years, 
being subdued by the king of Thebes, who then added Lower to Upper 
Egypt. But there seems good evidence that they ruled 400 years before 
Ramses II. The " Encyclopedia Britannica" limits their reign to the 
fifteenth and sixteenth dynasties, calling the seventeenth a Theban 
dynasty. All did not leave the land, for the Delta was the Poland of 
the nineteenth dynasty. It is singular, however, to find later kings 
with Semitic names, and called after the Hycsos god Set, as Setis or 
Sethos, etc. The father of the great Ramses was one. The wife of 
Amenophis III. was of the race ; and so was the queen of Ramses II. 
Then we get another set of facts, at variance with the tales of 
Manetho. Monumental history proves the Hycsos, while reverencing 
Set, their ancestral deity, by no means inimical to Egyptian theology. 
On the contrary, they adopted it, encouraged it, and left memorials 
of this devotion on their tombs. Mariette Bey thus discourses on the 
subject : " Up to this, on the authority of Manetho, we had believed 
that the Hycsos were only savage invaders, irreconcilable enemies of 
the power of the Pharaohs. But the Sphinx of San (discovered by 
Mariette Bey, and proved to be a Hycsos figure) carries legends in 
the official Egyptian language, written in the name of one of those 
kings. We shall see, later on, that far from having mutilated and des- 
troyed the statues of the national sovereigns they expelled, the Shep- 
herd Kings respected those statues, and ornamented them with their 
own names written in hieroglyphics. Injured national self-love has 
thus impelled Manetho to exaggerate the disasters of the Asiatic 
invasion. There came a time when the conquerors, submitting in 
their turn to the laws of the conquered, adopted their writing, their 
arts, and, in part, their rehgion." 

Professor Owen traces them to the country and race of Abraham, 
the Syro- Aramaean. The Philistines were thought by Mr. Birch to 

Appendix A. 437 

be Pelasgi, as the aborigines of Greece and Italy. Bryant quotes an 
ancient writer upon the Cuthites in Egypt, and says their first king 
was Telegonus, " a foreigner ; one that comes from a far country ; " 
and he describes him as " the son of Drus, the shepherd." Avaris, 
the capital of the Hycsos, in the noma of Hehopohs, near the land of 
Goshen, was the town of the Aurit^, who were said, by Syncellus, to 
have been early rulers in Egypt. Bryant puts them in Cushen or 
Goshen, the Arabian nome. " They were," he adds, " called Hellenes, 
Phoenices, Aurit«." The Vedas state that the PaUi, a shepherd race, 
were driven from India to Egypt in a religious contest. They are 
now represented by the semi-barbarous and pastoral Bhills ; who, 
though degraded below the Hindoos now, were before the invasion of 
their country a warlike, civihzed people. Major Wilford decides that 
they were the Hycsos. " Their features," he tells us, " are peculiar, 
and their language different ; though, perhaps, not radically different 
from that of other Hindoos." 

The writer was much impressed, when at the Museum of Boulaq, 
near Cairo, with the features of the Hycsos king on the sphinx there 
The nose was large and broad, the lips were thick, the eyes we e 
smaller than in regular Egyptians, the jaws were bony, with the 
muscles of the mouth strongly marked, and the aspect was rude, 
Mariette Bey has this description of a Hycsos face : " Round, angular, 
small eye, crushed nose, disdainful mouth ; a thick Hon's mane (in the 
sphinx) surrounds the countenance, and augments still more the 
energy." Rouge had a picture: "The eyes are small, the' nose 
vigorous and arched while flat, the cheeks are fat while bony, the chin 
is projecting, and the mouth attracts notice by the manner in which 
it lowers itself at the ends. The ensemble of the visage makes itself 
felt by the rudeness of the traits which compose it." Mariette Bey 
proudly says : " The Hycsos themselves are revealed for the first time, 
at the museum of Boulaq, by monuments which makes us understand 
the race and civiHzation of these Asiatics." 

On the statue, in spite of mutilations, we trace the head-dress of the 
Egyptian king, and the hieroglyphical declaration of his being the 
star of two worlds, and the son of the sun. His features, with large 
whiskers, and long flowing beard, may still be recognized in the living 
descendants of the Hycsos on the borders of Lake Menzaleh, i 
the Deha. The writer took particular notice of a crescent ornament 
suspended from the neck, and just like that worn by the Druids. The 
figure had a fish carved on the legs, and the cross was conspicuous on 
the image. 

The Hycsos were not iconoclasts, although they were ready to 

43 S Egyptian Belief and Modern Thotight. 

inscribe their own names on the statues of their Egyptian prede- 
cessors. M. Mariette may well say that they " have been severely 
judged." Of the very Apophis, or Apapi, of Manetho's list of Hycsos 
kings, he writes : " The temple of Sutekh, built by Apophis, was or- 
namented and enriched by the images of those Pharaohs, whose very 
memory the Shepherds are accused of having annihilated." 

Some have supposed, with Wilkinson, that there were two irruptions 
of this Semitic race. The latter one was marked by the war against 
the god Amnion, when they put up their own deity. Set, in his place. 
The first invasion may have dated from the sixth dynasty. If so, this 
terrible inroad of barbarians, as they then were, will account for the 
sad decline of the arts, and the loss of much learning, so soon after 
the erection of the Great Pyramid. 

Yet Prof. Piazzi Smyth believes the Hycsos were a religious, God- 
fearing race, who put down the idolatry of Egypt, and raised the 
pyramid as a monument of piety to the One God, though he acknow- 
ledges that they never built a pyramid elsewhere. The monuments of 
the Hycsos prove their idolatrous character. Yet, as Manetho has a 
story about their destroying the gods of Egypt, and, when retreating 
with 240,000 men, going to build Jerusalem, the Professor is confirmed 
in his opinion that Melchizedek, king of Salem, was of that race, and 
had been the architect of the pyramid itself. 

But Messrs. Nott and Gliddon, in their very interesting ethnological 
work, have this allusion to an African origin : " It is a deduction of 
Lepsius that Egypt had possessed an African population, and a Nilotic 
language, before the foundation of the Old Empire, and that various 
disturbing causes superimposed, gradually, an Asiatic type and 
Semitic languages upon the anterior people of the Lower Nile, 
without obliterating the original framework which, as well in type of 
man as in speech, was exclusively African." Mr. Gliddon, in another 
book, takes up the Biblical story of Abraham's visit to Egypt ; re- 
marking that " these circumstances go far in support of the Asiatic 
origin and Caucasian race of the early Egyptians ; who, while they do 
not appear to have looked upon Abraham as a Gentile, were by him 
considered worthy of his family. This would, probably, not have 
been the case had the Egyptians been Africans." Here we have 
creeping out the American's antipathy to the Negroid. 

Mr. Gliddon was on the horns of a dilemma. The Bible, to him, 
favours the settlement by the sons of Ham, and yet popular notions 
of ethnology in his day traced the dark tribes of earth to Ham. 
But he rises to the occasion. " There is no more Biblical reason," 
says he, "to derive the Negroes from Ham than from Shcm or Japheth." 

Appendix A, 439 

Again, " The hieroglyphical name for Negroes, Ktish, has no apparent 
relation to Cush, the son of Ham." He is quite scientific in his declara- 
tion, though it is somewhat opposed to his creed of the Noah origin 
of all races in the world, that " the climate of Egypt will never change 
a Caucasian into a Negro." Still, he is obhged to confess that " on the 
geographical distribution of the seven sons of Mizraim (whom he puts 
into Egypt), the hieroglyphical names of Egyptian localities have as 
yet shed no light." They cannot be expected to do it. Mr. Gliddon 
thus sums up : " Asiatic in their origin, springing from the same stock 
as Shem and Japheth, and Caucasian, in their osteological conforma- 
tion, the Egyptians were white men, of no darker hue than the pure 
Arab, Jew, or Phoenician." He then brings in Ham, "whom Scrip- 
ture," says he, " tells us was the parent of the Egyptians ; and, as 
such. Ham must have been an Asiatic and Caucasian." 

The Copts of Egypt have been regarded by many as the successors 
of the ancient Egyptians. The language, undoubtedly Egyptian, fur- 
nished the means of reading hieroglyphics. M. Pugnet is possibly 
right in calling the Fellah the descendant pure, and the Copt the de- 
scendant mixed. Most of the present Copts are almost Syrian. When 
of old persecuted by fellow-Christians, as they held heretical notions, 
not agreeable to Constantinople and Rome, they were obliged to fly 
to the mountains of Syria, and sojourned there for generations, mixing 
with the people. On the return of some of these Jacobins^ being still 
ill-treated by the Greco-Egyptian party, they opened their gates to the 
march of the Saracens, and Egypt became a Mahometan province. 
Clot Bey thinks the Cathohc Copts even more mixed than the Coptic 
Jacobin Christians. It was once the custom to speak of the Copts,— 
now only 200,000 in number— as the sole descendants of the ancient 
Egyptians. At present the Fellahs are over three millions. Cham- 
pollion asserts that the Copts have "neither the colour nor any of the 
characteristic traits" of the old race ; but are "a confused mixture of 
all nations who successively have dominated in Egypt." Perier asks : 
"Is there anything more malleable than this type of the Copts?" 
• Larry identifies them with Abyssinians. Denon and Pruner Bey saw 
resemblances to them on the walls of Egypt. 

Though PUny mentions white and black Ethiopians, yet it has been 
usual to give the latter colour to the name. The mother of Memnon 
was a dark Ethiopian or Abyssinian. Manilius says the men were lighter 
-than the Ethiopian. Maspero, perhaps, hits the nail on the head when 
saying : " They found established upon the borders of the Nile another 
race, probably black, whom they thrust back into the interior ; " that 
is, for a time only. Travellers notice as far inland as Sennaar, a strong 

440 Egypiiaii Belief and Modern Thonght. 

likeness to Egyptian figures, with customs belonging to the ancient 
nation. We know, however, from history how, in a military revolt, 
numbers of the Egyptians went down far south, and founded a colony. 

Prof. Huxley would give them a dark origin, allying them with the 
Australians, as Aiistraloids. " For although the Egyptian," says he, 
" has been much modified by civilization, and, probably, by admixture, 
he still retains the dark skin, the black, silky, wavy hair, the long skull, 
the fleshy lips, the broadish al^ of the nose, which we know distin- 
guished his remote ancestors, and which cause both him and them to 
approach the Australian and the Dashyu (aborigines of India) more 
nearly than they do any other form of mankind." 

Prof. Owen is quite shocked at the degradation of so great a race, 
who, he declares "was certainly not of the Australoid type." He 
proceeds : " Unknown, and scarce conceivable as are the conditions 
which could bring about the conversion of the Austrahan into the 
ancient Egyptian type of skull, the influence of civilization and ad- 
mixture would be still more impotent in blotting out the dental charac- 
teristics of the lower race. The size of crown, and multiplication of 
fangs are reduced in the ancient Egyptian to the standard of Indo- 
European, or so-called actual highly civilized races. The last molar 
has the same inferiority of size." 

The cautious Dr. Birch comes between the two. He sees "the 
features neither entirely Caucasian nor Nigritian ; more resembling 
at the earhestage the European, at the middle point of the Empire the 
Nigritian races or the ofl'spring of a mixed population, and at the most 
flourishing period of their Empire the sallow tint and refined type of 
the Semitic families of mankind." He has no higher conception of the 
pure African than Mr. Huxley himself, speaking of " the Nigritian 
races, whom nothing but the pressure of conquest or subjection can 
elevate to a higher standard." 

It is singular to find a white race spoken of in the ancient monu- 
ments. Dr. Brugsch, the learned German, notices the word Tam-Jioic 
or white men. As it occurs on tablets dating 2,500 years before Christ, 
it is puzzhng to indicate the people. Brugsch traces them to Libya. 
Champollion recognized in the Tamh'ou a type of European ancestry. 
M. Deveria remarks upon hieroglyphics recording the fact of Horus, 
the god, leading and guiding a white race. As there are still many 
Cckic monuments in the north of Africa, over many hundreds of 
miles, he contends for the existence of an original Celtic people in 
Egypt, or, in modern language, that the Welsh and Irish were once in 

The French have written far more than the English upon Egypt, 

Appendix A, 441 

and have generally exhibited more learning and philosophical acumen 
in their investigations. The quotations already given show their 
ethnological skill. 

M. Perrier has this singular remark : " The Ancient Egyptians are, 
at first, assimilated to the Libyan type, then to the Nubian type, then 
to the Arabian type, and, again, to the Abyssinian type." Certainly, 
Manetho mentions a revolt of the Libyans during the third dynasty. 
Terrier's deduction, however, is this : " That it must be admitted as 
very probable that the race of the Egyptians— essentially one and indi- 
vidual, from their civilization, and not appearing as immigrants from 
any part— is originally of the place where its genius took so marvellous 
a development." 

Pruner Bey, the distinguished anthropological authority in Paris 
has given the following summing up of his investigations : — 

" The physical type of the Egyptians, figured upon the monuments, 
a type of which we can establish the authenticity even to-day by the 
exterior of the inhabitants of the Nile, approaches the Berber in the 
variety which we call the Fine type, at the point which we consider the 
Ancient Egyptian as a branch of the great Libyan stock. 

" The linguistic, on its side, rather confirms than rejects the parent- 
age of the idioms in use among the actual Berber race and the Copts 
of antiquity. 

" Some historical documents come to the help of that assertion. 

" If the physical type of the Ancient Egyptian approaches that of the 
Aryan Hindoo, the linguistic argument does not quite admit a direct 
parentage between the two races. 

" The history of the Mizraimites is undoubtedly more ancient than 
ours ; and if there be a progressive movement of languages, that of 
Egypt would be more ancient than the Aryan, and the Hottentot idiom 
is probably the most ancient of all those which are yet in use." 

" I hesitate to formulate conclusions as decided in that which con- 
cerns the grosser type which meets one on the primitive monuments 
where the human figure commences to appear. Is it but a term of 
limits between which are found comprised the individuals belonging 
to the same race ? Or, is it the result of mixture with the Negro, the 
Turanian, the Hottentot, etc., a mixture accomplished at an epoch 
anterior to the dawn of history ? 

" Is it possible, and even probable, that a more ancient race, less 
-handsome and less endowed with intelligence, has occupied the Valley 
before the appearance of the Libyan branch which founded the civili- 
zation of which we now admire the antiquity, the preservation, and the 
monuments ? 

442 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought, 

" The primitive race, once admitted, has left, according to certain 
traces of its passage, at least indelible traits in the conformation of the 
physique as well as in language." 

Not a few authorities find themselves driven to the conclusion that 
the civilization of Egypt was not foreign, but indigenous ; and that, 
therefore, the Egyptians had always their home there. 

Prof. Owen follows on the same side as Perrier, saying : " The 
patent, indisputable facts of the successive sites of capitals of kings of 
the ancient race, from the first to the fourteenth dynasties, do not 
support any hypothesis of immigration ; they are adverse to the Asia- 
tic one by the Isthmus ; they indicate rather that Egypt herself, through 
her exceptionally favourable conditions of an easy and abundant sus- 
tenance of her inhabitants, had been the locality of the rise and pro- 
gress of the earliest civilization knowi> in the world." 

M. Beauregard, author of " Divinites Egyptiennes," affirms that "as 
Neith, her mystic patroness, Egypt was made by itself." He is posi- 
tive in his opinion. " The Egyptian civilization," he says, " absolutely 
autochthone, and certainly the first and most ancient of all the civiliza- 
tions of the globe, is consequently the only one whose originality is 
incontestable." 'He further calls it "a spontaneous work, accom- 
pHshed in most complete isolation." 

A curious ethnological version of religion was given by M. Edouard 
Naville, in 1870. In the story of Horus, at Edfou temple, he notes 
Typhon being king of Egypt before his expulsion by Horus. The god 
has for his warlike companions the Schesou Hor, whom Roug^ iden- 
tifies as aborigines of Egypt. Horus is said to have been born at 
Cheb, Lower Egypt. The battles of Horus with his foes are delinea- 
ted on the walls of the temple. May not, asks M. Naville, these re- 
ligious traditions have some foundation in the facts of history ? We 
are told that of his vanquished enemies, the coioschites, or negroes, went 
to the south ; the a7nou, or yellow men, to the north ; the tamahou, or 
white men, to the west ; and the shasou, ancient Arabs, to the east. 
The first city, Teni, near Abydos, where Menes, founder of the mon- 
archy, resided, was always revered as the burial place of Osiris, father 
of Horus. 

After this rehearsal of opinions upon the Origin of Egyptians, it is 
well now to turn to the monumental records of the race, and see further 
how the people represented themselves. 

To Mariette Bey are we mainly indebted for a revelation of the 
Ancient Empire of Egypt. He found the most ancient statues, pictures, 
and writings, besides proving himself to be most competent in describ- 
ing them. Five and twenty years ago he went to the Nile, under the 

Appendix A. 443 

patronage of the Due de Luynes. For years his labours were rewarded 
by the French Government, though now he is an officer of the Egyp- 
tian State, the curator, as he was the founder, of the Museum by the 

The most interesting fact he brings out is that the more ancient the 
figures, the more do they resemble ourselves as Europeans. The face 
of Shafra, builder of one of the pyramids, is quite Caucasian. Later 
on, we see lower types, and some true Ethiopian. Here and there, 
as in Ramses VIII., we have a high, Wellington nose; though nothing 
of the Middle or New Empire can compare with the nose of the earhest 
age. In the twelfth dynasty we detect a long, straight nose, large ears, 
and positive corpulence. 

In the Louvre of Paris is a figure, on whose pedestal is the state- 
ment of its age being 3000 years before our era. It is nothing so 
fine or characteristic as the Cairo statues of Ra-hotep, the priest 
Ra-nefer, and their wives. Mariette found a wooden image, which he 
puts at 6000 years old. Phrenologically, the head indicated a large 
development of animal energy, firmness, veneration, and benevolence, 
with an expansive forehead, but flattened ideahty. The limbs were 
finely sculptured, displaying the marks of a vigorous, energetic race. 
The shoulders were broad, and the muscles powerfully exhibited. 
Mariette Bey could not help exclaiming : " If the Egyptian race was 
at this epoch that of which these two statues offer the type, we must 
agree that it no way resembles the race which inhabited the north of 
Egypt some years only after Snefron " (of the third or pre-pyramid 

Of Ra-nefer, Mariette writes : " He has all the types which dis- 
tinguish the Egyptian Fellah."—" Evidently Ra-nefer lived under the 
Ancient Empire. His titles bring him near the fifth dynasty.'' Of 
another he writes : " The eyes are well open, the nose fine, and slightly 
retrousse, the lips thick, the mouth large, the jaws full,— altogether a 
gentle and benevolent countenance." Again, of one, he says : " The 
type is that which one meets with to-day among the inhabitants of a 
great number of villages in Middle Egypt." A kind face, full eye and 
fine hp indicate another couple of statues— evidently husband and 
^ife_seated together. Hathor, the lady, is shorter than Asa, with a 
softer nose, but lips more fine and elongated than his ; " a type of 
physiognomy," said the curator, " in some sense more Egyptian than 
" at any other epoch." 

M. Pugnet has this sketch: "Their forms are vigorously pronounced, 
the colour of their skin is of an obscure red ; they have large fore- 
heads, round chin, jaws moderately full, straight nose, the nasal ailes 

444 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thotight. 

strongly sinuous, eyes large and brown, mouth a little apart, thick lips, 
white^eeth, high and very detached ears, eyelashes and beards ex- 
tremely black." Pruner Bey considered the head harmonic. He 
judiciously warns us that "the national colour of the skin with the 
Egyptians of the monuments was conventional." The man is usually 
red, but the woman is yellow or white. He declares that " the skull 
of the grosser type is more voluminous and massive in all its parts 
than that of the fine type." 

From the ethnological work of Dr. Barnard Davis, as descriptive 
of Egyptian mummies, these extracts are taken : " Short locks of 
flowing, reddish brown hair.— Has long reddish brown hair, which is 
plaited and fastened behind.— Orthognathous face, which is almost in 
the form of a triangle.— Has a narrow face, with long, slender nose.— 
Hair in short, very curly, reddish brown locks.— A large head, with a 
long pointed nose, and rather broad face." 

Dr. Morton, the American craniologist, found four series. There 
was the Arcto-Egyptian, a pure Caucasian ; the Austro-Egyptian, 
a Hindoo or an Arab grafted on the aborigine of Ethiopia; the 
Negroloid, with long, wiry, not woolly hair ; and the true Negro. Of 
loo skulls, he put 60 in the first, 31 in the second, 8 in the third, i in 
the fourth. After this he recanted. " I am compelled," he said, "by a 
mass of irresistible evidence to modify the opinion expressed in the 
' Crania Egyptiaca,' viz., that the Egyptians were an Asiatic people. 
Seven years of additional investigation, together with greatly increased 
materials, have convinced me that they are neither Asiatics nor Euro- 
peans, but aboriginal and indigenous inhabitants of the Valley of 
the Nile, or some contiguous region— peculiar in their physiognomy, 
isolated in their institutions, and forming one of the primordial 
centres of the human family." According to Professor Flower, 1875, 
" Of twenty ancient Egyptian skulls in the Museum (College of 
Surgeons) none are brachycephalic, or having a cephalic index of 80 
or higher." 

Mariette Bey informs us that while the earliest inhabitants show a 
short, stout, robust figure, with well developed limbs, those that fol- 
lowed were taller, thinner, less muscular, and more Ethiopian. Glid- 
don remarks that " under the twelfth dynasty the expression of statues 
becomes peculiarly refined, and the short and clumsy proportions are 
more elongated." Speaking of representations of some figures, he 
notes " their powerful bearing upon the question of permanence of 
type in Egypt during five thousand years,— upon that of the effects of 
amalgamation among distinct types,— in elucidation of the physio- 
logical law that the aiitochthono2is majority invariably^ in time, absorbs 

Appendix A, 445 

and effaces the foreign minority." Looking at the Louvre Scribe, 
fifth dynasty, he was astonished at the '• perfect preservation of a 
typical form of man through 5000 years of time, in the famihar 
effigy of a hving Fellah." 

Professor Owen's observations on the physique of the Egyptians 
must command respectful attention. Like Mr. Gliddon, he saw the 
present in the past. " One has only," he says, " to glance at the 
Fellaheen working the shadoof, or primitive swing bucket, along the 
banks of the Nile, to see the retention of this 'nervous ' type of limb, 
through well developed and well worked muscles and tendon 
bequeathed to them by their ancestors." 

The image of the princess Nefer-t, of the third dynasty, which 
stood beside the noble form of Ra-Hotep, decidedly pleased the 
Professor. " It shows," said he, "more dehcacy and finish. The nose, 
of perfect proportions, is also slightly arched ; the lips rather full, the 
chin well turned but small. The eye-brows are more definitely marked 
than in the male. Above these, her own hair is parted Madonna-wise, 
beneath the manifold, long, slender ringlets of the voluminous wig, 
which is encircled above the brow by a jewelled tiara, the gems, 
coloured green and red, being set in a silver or white coloured band." 
The age of this figure of Nefer-t, must be, at least, approaching 
six thousand years. 

He was not a httle astonished at one type. " The general character 
of the face recalls that of the northern German ; he might be the 
countryman of Bismark. Without corpulency, the well nourished 
frame and breadth of chest make the square shoulders of his race less 
distinct or less marked than in most of the statues." Of another we 
have Professor Owen's confession that, "with Enghsh costume and 
complexion, this Egyptian of the Ancient Empire would pass for a 
well-to-do, sensible British citizen and rate-payer." 

Professor Huxley's recognition of an Australian type in Egypt 
leads the writer to trespass upon the good nature of readers, by giving 
a few quotations from his own work on " The Daily Life of the 
Tasmanians," especially from the chapter dealing with the origin of 
those natives of the southern ocean. 

Being a believer in the theory that the dark aboriginal races of 
India, the Asiatic Isles, Austraha, and eastern Africa, including some 
races of Egypt, have strong affinities, pointing to a common origin, 
the author is unable to reconcile the difficulties of their present isol- 
ation, especially when scarcely any are maritime in habit, excepting 
on the supposition that, once belonging to one continent, a subsidence 
of the central part has left these peoples fringing the Indian ocean 

44^ Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 

that was formerly main land. The recent announcement of the marine 
origin of the deposits toward the mouth of the Irrawady river yields 
one of many geological arguments in favour of tlie theory. 

Mr. Palgrave regards the Himyarites of Arabia as of African origin. 
Mr. Logan was of opinion " the Indo-African preceded the later East- 
Asian, which developed the Malayan-Polynesian tribes." He adds : 
" We must go to Australia and Papuanesia to understand the cha- 
racter of the Indo-African era of the archipelago." The South Sea 
antiquities aid the geological argument for the southern continent. 
Mr. Murray, the naturalist, writes : " The connection between India 
and Australia must have been very ancient, and at a time when one 
or other of them was not in a condition to supply the other with 
mammals, although it could with plants." He speaks, also, of "the 
former contiguity of land by which these African types found their 
way to Australia." Dr. Hooker says : " The antecedents of the 
peculiar Australian Flora may have inhabited an area to the westward 
of the present Australian continent." M. Alfred Maury affirms that 
" we can recognize the rest of these Australian negroes in the very 
savage tribes of Hindustan." Again : "' One finds elsewhere upon the 
coast of Mozambique negroes who recall the Oceanic Blacks." Mr. 
Logan, of India, has astonished many with the grammatical affinities 
of language in Australia, India, and Africa. 

When Mr. Nott was puzzled with the Australian likeness in Egypt, 
he exclaimed : " The supposition of any community of origin between 
these Australians and the true Nigritians, neither of them migratory 
races, and widely separated by oceans, would be too gratuitious to 
merit refutation." But, to believe man of one race, we must recognize 
the question of the rise and fall of land as well as lapse of ages. The 
aboriginal people of Egypt — not the fair-skinned, high-classed colonists 
— were, doubtless, once allied with the race that for thousands of years 
have been cut off from the rest of the world, dwelling in the gum 
forests of Australia and Tasmania. 



ILLUSTRATIONS of Bible History from the monuments of Egypt 
are always welcomed, though they do not enter into the scope of 
the present work. Yet the writer would venture upon a brief reference 
to a remarkable statement of M. Brugsch, so many years resident in 

Objecting as many had done to the popular tradition of Moses 
crossing the Red Sea at Suez, he examined monuments on the spot 
in search of names and sites of ancient cities, placing them in relation 
to the accounts in Scripture, and so obtained some singular results. 

Goshen, on the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, may still be traced by 
ruins. When several of the old beds, by which the river found its lazy 
way through low lands to the sea, disappeared in being silted up, or 
raised by subterranean forces, the fruitful Goshen became a desert. 
Egypt, so to speak, is an artificial land, dependent upon man's atten- 
tion to the annual inundation and the storage of waters. Intestinal 
commotions and foreign invasions produced this neglect of the canals 
and mounds. 

There has been, also, a great change in the course of the main 
stream itself, affecting the distribution of settlements. The Red Sea, 
too, which is now closed at Suez, ran formerly higher up into the 
country, as far as the Bitter Lakes, so-called. An elevation of Egypt 
threw back the waters southward to Suez. 

Did the Israehtes cross before the recession of the Red Sea ? or, 
did they cross many miles above Suez ? 

M. Brugsch determines, after years of research on the spot, that 
they marched eastward from Ramses to the crossing of the water, and 
not southward. He then states that they passed north-eastwardly 
toward, but not through, the land of the Philistines, going along a 
narrow spit of sand beside the Mediterranean Sea, till they gained the 
extreme north-eastern position at Baalzephon, on the Mediterranean, 
not far from the boundary between Egypt and Palestine. 

44 S Egyptian Belief and Modern ThoitgJit. 

He then tracks them in a returning south-westerly direction, toward 
the Bitter Lakes, and thence southerly and south-easterly, leaving Suez 
on the right. The crossing he places very much nearer the Mediter- 
ranean than the Red Sea proper, even north of the Bitter Lakes, and 
on a highway out of Egypt, along a route marked by the presence of 
ruined cities. What width of water there was there, or what con- 
stituted the miracle of the passage, are questions beside the mark. 
The poet may have taken a poet's license in exaggerated description, 
but the people ever afterwards dwelt upon some great deliverance. 

Naturally, this German savant objects to the introduction of the 
phrase Red Sea, which ought not, says he, to have been used, as the 
crossing was not over a sea, but on a line of swamps and inland lakes, 
remnants of a communication once existing between the Red Sea and 
the Mediterranean, and utilized by a canal in the time of the Pharaohs. 

Cities have disappeared in swamp or sands. Brugsch identifies 
Pithom, Pithan, or Succoth Pithon with Heracleopolis of the inscrip- 
tions. Pithan lay between Tanis, once capital of the Hycsos, and 
Pelusium by the border. There is historical proof of a strange people 
living once in the district of Pithan, though an Egyptian garrison was 
there. The country around was known as Sukot, whence the name 
of Succoth, the first station after leaving Ramses, the point of Is- 
raelitish departure. We read of Sokhot-Zoan, and plain of Zoan, on a 
monument of Ramses II, of the nineteenth dynasty. Thothmes III. 
started on his expedition into Canaan, B.C. 1600, from Zoan- Ramses ; 
and Ramses II. there concluded a peace with the foreign Khetians. 

Brugsch supposes four stations, separated by as many days' journey ; 
Ramses, the coast of Sakot, Khetan, and Migdol. Khetan he recog- 
nizes as Etham, a fortified post. Now, Ramses, Succoth, Etham, and 
Migdol are said to have been a day's journey apart. A papyrus at 
our Museum, dated about the Exodus era, mentions an arrival of some 
parties at Sukot on the tenth day of the month, and at Khetan on 
the twelfth. One left the palace at Ramses, reaching Sukot the day 
after, and Khetan on the third day. 

The Schour desert of the Bible is the country of the Wall, north 
of Migdol, at the end of Lake Sirbonis. This was once a lagune 
covered with the papyrus, but is now dry desert. North of that again 
was a narrow tongue of land close along the Mediterranean. As that 
tongue was the high-road at that ancient time to Palestine, Brugsch 
concludes the Israelites passed along it from Migdol, which is a little 
south of it. The entrance to the gulf between Migdol and the sea was 
at Pihahiroth. Baal-zephon, or " master of the north," was the Semitic 
god Ammon of the lagunes. 

Appendix B, 449 

"It was upon this narrow tongue of land," says our authority, 
" bordered on one side by the Mediterranean Sea, on the other by the 
lagunes of the sea-weed, between the point of entrance at the Khiroth, 
or gulf, toward the west, and the sanctuary of Baal-zephon toward the 
east, where the great catastrophe occurred." 

He adds, " a single tide surprised the Egyptian horses." This leads 
him to conclude : " The miracle, it is true, thus ceases to be a miracle ; 
but let us confess in all sincerity that Divine Providence always 
maintains its place and its authority." He believes " the Egyptian 
monuments rather contribute to provide the most striking proofs of 
the Biblical account." 

The IsraeHtes then turned hastily from the land of the Phihstines 
into the Desert of Schour, which was far to the east of Pitham and 
Ramses, and descended along what was a regular road for many 
centuries afterwards to Suez. Marah he supposes the Bitter Lakes ; 
and Elim he places north of the gulf of Suez. 

G G 


Abracadabra, 343. 
Adonai, 92, 107. 
Adytum of Egypt, 226. 
Ahriman, 273. 
Akass of India, 117. 
Amen, 107, 124, 276. 
Amoun, Ammon, 122. 
Amulet, 342. 
Ancestor worship, 245. 
Annihilation, 66. 
Anubis, 120, etc. 
Antiquity of gods, 87. 
Ape worship, 228. ci^ M '^ ^ 
Apis worship, 233. 
Apophis, 268, 273. 
Ark of Isis, 148, 221. 
Ark and boat, 124, 222. 
Aroueris, 160. 
Ascension, 407. 
Asiatic origin, 433. 
Ash Yggdrasil, 239. 
Ass worship, 228. 
Assumption, 147. 
Assyrian holy books, 200. 

— tree of life, 239. 

— immortality, 43. 

— magic, 343. 

— trinity, 401. 
Astrology, 321, etc. 
Asvattha, 239. 
Atef, 209. 
Athene, 119. 
Atlantidas, 431. 
Atonement, 408. 
Australoid origin, 440. 

Baal, 125. 

Bacchus, 169. 
Baldur, 160, 169. 
Bambino, 157, 226. 
Baptism, 416. 
Bead symbol, 210. 
Bean worship, 242. 
Bells, 215, 216, 235. 
Bennou, 236. 
Bes, 96. 

Bible, Egyptian, 185. 
Black Madonnas, 141. 
Blavatsky's Isis, 312, 350. 
Boat of sun, 205, 287. 
Books of Bible, 200. 
Broad arrow, 210. 
Buckle, 209. 
Bull worship, 127, 232. 
Burial rites, 29. 

Caduceus, 272. 
Cakes of Isis, 417-8. 
Calf, Horeb, 234. 
Calvary cross, 219. 
Candlemas, 115. 
Cat worship, 227. 
Catholic saints, 93. 
Cerberus, 48, 274. 
Chaldeans, 50, 57, 59. 
Chaos, 116. 

Charon, 49, 122, 197, 279. 
Cheops worship, 249. 
Cherubim, 148, 223. 
Chnouphis, 103. 
Christian festivals, 182. 
— sun worship, 283. 
Christianity, 424. 
Circumcision, 258, 414. 



Cneph, 105. 
Coffins, 27. 
Coiffures, 208. 
Colour symbols, 211. 
Cone, 210, 211. 
Cones, 127. 
Confession, 381. 
Copts, 439. 
Cow worship, 227. 
Crescent, 210, 291. 
Crocodile worship, 230. 
Crook, 211. 

Cross, 12, 216, 220, 297. 
Crux ansata, 218, etc. 
Cushites, 431. 
Cypress, 239. 
Cyprus bull, 234. 

Dead divine, 194, 247. 
Deluge, 223, 
Devils, 62, 65. 
Diana, 142. 
Dionysus, 151, 179. 
Disk worship, 288. 
Dog worship, 231. 
Dragon, 273. 
Druidism, 76, 183, 288. 
Divination, 335. 
Divinities, 89. 

Eagle worship, 236. 
Eggs, T95,2ii, 234. 
Egyptian types, 428. 

— gods, 85. 

— heaven, 54. - 
Eichton, 106. 
Ellipse, 213. 
Elohim, 135. 
Embalm — why ? 30. 
Epitaphs, 21. 
Eucharist, 163, 264, 416. 
Evil spirits, 337. 
Exodus, 447. 
Exorcism, 342. 

Eye of Horus, 210. 

Feasts of dead, 48, 245. 
Female sphinx, 292. 
Fetishism, 5. 

Fig worship, 241. 
Figurines, 17. 
Fish symiool, 238. 
Four Genii, 19. 
French " Sirius," 317. 
Freemasonry, 174, 179, 
Frog worship, 238. 
Funeral crown, 26. 
— rites, 7. 

198, 346. 

Gates of Hades, 49. 
Gazelle worship, 235. 
Genii of dead, 19. 
Geometrical symbols, 213. 
Goat worship, 227. 
God, one, 386. 
Gods, 85, etc., 199. 
God's hair-cutting, 277. 
— name, 339. 
Gog and Magog, 319. 
Great sphinx, 292. 
Great gods, 86. 
Grove, 239. 

Hare worship, 229. 
Harmachus, 294, etc. 
Harpocrates, 158. 
Hatchet symbol, 209. 
Hawk worship, 235. 
Heart, 195, 209. 
Hell, 46, 64. 
Hermanubis, 122. 
Hermaphrodite, 260-1. 
Hermetic, loi, 390. 
High priest, 355. 
Hindoo, 168, 284. 
Hippopotamus, 137, 284. 
Hiram Abiff, 175-6. 
Holy water, 418. 
HorAmmon, 123. 
Horus, 15 7- J 66. 
Human sacrifice, 285. 
Hycsos, 435. 
Hymns, 128, 278, 282. 
Hyperbolic curve, 213, 305. 
Hypocephalus, 26, 210. 

Ibis worship, 236. 
Images, 88. 



Imhotep, 93. 

Immortality, 39, etc., 41, 44- 

Immaculate Conception, 115. 141. 

Incarnation, 406. 

Indigenous origin, 442. 

Intermediate state, 60. 

Isiac table, 148. 

Isis, 140, etc., 165. 

I thy phallic, 260. 

Jackal worship, 231. 
Jehovah, 123, 154- 
Jewish rites, 377. 

— symbols, 207. 
Judgment, 61, 419. 
Justified, 156. 
Justification, 408. 

Kerneter, 56. 
Khem, 75, 103. 
Khons, 97. 
Kneph, 105. 
Knots symbol, 208. 

Labarum, 218. 

Labyrinth, 198. 

Lady of Sycamore, 116. 

Last Judgment, 419. 

Lion worship, 228. 

Logos, 40, 104, 108, 157, 243, 260, 

Love feast, 260. 
Lunar gods, 290. 

Ma, Maut, 96. 
Madonna, 142, 147. 
Magic, 333, 341, 348- 
Mariolatry, 147. 
Masses for dead, 385. 
Mastaba, 7, 8. 
Milk picture, 143. 
Millennium, 410. 
Minerva, 115, 118, 217. 
Mithra, 99, 170. 
Mnevis,' 234. 
Monotheism, 392-6. 
Moon worship, 290. 
Morals of Egypt, 372, 382. 
Mosaic symbols, 214. 

Mother of gods, 112, 115. 
Mount Sinai, 151. 
Mummies, 23, etc. 
Mysteries, 345. 

Nagas, 274. 
Nature worship, 15. 
Naville on Horus, 171. 
Nebuchadnezzar, 117. 
— image, 300. 
Nephthys, 149. 
Nepte, 114- 
Nerfe, 114. 
Nile god, 94. 
Noah, 177. 
Nout, Neith, 114. 
Nuns, 361. 

Obelisk, 252, 300, 304. 

Offerings, 286, 374. 

Omphalos, 210. 

One god, 278. 

Onion, 241. 

Ophites, 263. 

Oracles, 335. 

Orientation, 14. 

Origin of faith, 3. 

Origin of Egyptian, 427. 

Osirian dead, 70. 

Osiris, 150, etc., 177, 180, 427. 

Ouabsh, 210. 

Outa, 210. 

Ousekh, 209. 

Ounnefer, 154. 

Pacis bull, 234. 
Palasa tree, 239. 
Palm, 242. 
Pantheism, 388. 
Papal infallibihty, 248. 
Pasht, 98. 
Pectoral plates, 26. 
Pentagram, 213. 
Persea tree, 241. 
Phallic, 255-259. 
Pharaoh, 286. 
Phoenix, 236. 
Ptah, 107. 
Phylactery, 195, 343. 



Physique, Egyptian, 443. 
Piazzi Smyth, 306. 
Pig worship, 228. 
Pious bequests, 251. 
Possession, spirits, 336. 

— story, 343- 
Prayers, 379, etc. 

— for dead, 245, 286. 
Pre-existence, 80. 
Pre-historic man, 428. 
Priests, 311, 35 1- 
Priestess, 359. 
Processions, 368. 
Prophets, 353. 
Providence, 271. 
Pschent, 209. 
Purgatory, 58. 
Pyramid worship, 306. 

— priests, 311. 

Ra, 106, 280. 
Ram worship, 227. 
Raven worship, 236. 
Red Sea, 448. 
Reincarnation, 78, etc. 
Resurrection, 35, 68, etc. 
Ritual, 185, etc. 
Rods, 240. 
Rose-croix, 218. 

Sabbath, 412. 
Sacred heart, 241. 
Sail symbol, 209. 
Sais, 219. 
San, 132. 
Sarcophagus, 20. 
Scarabeus, 73, 237, 279. 
Sceptre, 211. 
Scribes, 354. 
Seal, 209. 
Seb, 97. 
Sekhet, 98. 
Selk, 92. 

Semitic gods, 90. 
Sepulchral box, 18. 

— cones, 18. 

— altar, 19. 
Serapis, 96. 
Serapium, 232, 266. 

Serdab, 17. 
Serpent, 262, etc. 
Set, 129, 268. 
Sex worship, 262. 
Shell, 208. 
Sheol, 47. 
Shrew mouse, 228. 
Signs of zodiac, 327. 
Sinai, 151, 290. 
Sirius, 313, etc. 
Sistrum, 214, 
Socharis, 108. 
Solomon's seal, 213. 
Soul, 36, 73, 75. 
Sphinx, 292, etc. 
Spirit of pyramid, 338. 
Star worship, 320, etc. 
Steles or tablets, 13. 
St. George, 158. 
St. Christopher, 121. 
St. Januarius, 173. 
Stone knife, 23, 415. 
Sun gods, 94. 
Sun worship, 276, etc. 
Sun's night course, 201. 
Sycamore, 240. 
Symbolic rehgion, 206. 

Table of offerings, 9, 375. 

Tammuz, 149, 169. 

Taoer, 139. 

Tat symbol, 212. 

Tau, 218. 

Temple, 256, 294, 362, etc. 

Thmei, 91. 

Thoth, 100, 390, 407. 

Thoueris, 139. 
1 Thummim, 223. 
! Tiamat, 139. 
I Todtenbuch, 188. 
I Tombs, 8, etc. 
: Transmigration, 78, 196. 
; Tree worship, 239. 
j Trefoil, 127, 242. 
! Triangle, 213. 

Trinity, 396, etc. 

Triple tau, 219. 

Troy, 119, 213. 

Turanian, 434. 



Type theory, 425. 
Typhon, 134, 274. 

Uasar, 180. 
Uranus, 265. 
Urim, 223. 

Vedas, 432. 
Venus, III. 
Veritas (Melville's), 
Virginity, 215. 
Vulture worship, 23( 

JO, 328. 

Water god, 95. 
— of life, 71. 
Weighing souls, 419, 421. 
Whites in Egypt, 440. 
Whip of Osiris, 211. 
Worship of dead, 12, 245. 

Yoni symbols, 258. 

Zoolatry, 225. 
Zoroastrian, 136. 


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Printed in large, clear, old-faced type, with a Steel Engraved Portrait of the Author, the sut complete, 

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*^(.* The ha>:dso7iiesi Edition published. 



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IDYLLS. 6^. 
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I.-EARLY POEMS. Illustrated with 
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II.— ENGLISH IDYLLS, and other 
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III.-LOCKSLEY HALL, and other 
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Containing an Engraving of a Scene 
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an Autotype of the Bust of Mr. 
Tennyson by T. Woolner, R.A. 

trated with an Engraved Portrait of 
' J^iaine,' from a Photographic Study 
by Julia M. Cameron. 
taining an Engraving of 'Arthur,' 
from a Photographic Study by Julia 
M. Cameron. 
graved Frontispiece. 
With a Picture of 'Maud,' taken 
from a Photographic Study by Julia 
M. Cameron. 
X.— IN MEMORIAM. With a Steel 
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engraved from a picture in possession 
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XL— QUEEN MARY: a Drama. With 
Frontispiece by Walter Crane. 
XII.— HAROLD : a Drama. With Frontis- 
piece by Walter Crane. 

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Vol. I.— POEMS. 



X.— MAUD. 

TT-W»7T T 






Egyptian belief and modern thought ... 

1 1 m'."m'.^°".!i'f °l?5'ef" Seminary-Speer Library